A blind veteran is looking forward to a special Christmas this year.
Paul Langan, 64, from Newbiggin, is spending the festive period with other vision-impaired ex-service men and women at Blind Veterans UK’s Llandudno centre.
Every year the charity invites beneficiaries, who would otherwise spend Christmas alone, to spend the week at one of its training and rehabilitation centres.
Paul said: “I’m really excited to be headed to the Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno for Christmas. I live by myself which means the festive season can be a difficult time, but this year I’ll be spending it with other blind veterans and sharing in that special military spirit.”
Paul joined the Army as an apprentice at the age of 16 before joining the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He served in the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Northern Ireland before he was discharged in 1975 for health reasons.
He said: “I moved up the ranks in the REME and became a Lance Corporal, but it became clear that my health and eye sight was failing. I couldn’t tune the radio to the right frequency and my target shooting suddenly deteriorated. It was then I knew something was very wrong.”
He eventually discovered that he had multiple sclerosis, which has caused him to lose his sight and has also affected his mobility.
He joined Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s) in 2016 and has since received training and equipment to help him adapt to his sight loss.
Paul said: The best thing about Blind Veterans UK is the camaraderie of meeting others who have lost their sight and seeing what they’ve gone on to do. I know it will be the same warm atmosphere at the centre this Christmas and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss.
The charity is reaching out to the estimated 400 vision-impaired ex-service men and women in Northumberland battling severe sight loss who could be eligible for support but don’t currently realise it. Most of these veterans completed their service many years ago, and have since lost their sight due to conditions such as macular degeneration or glaucoma.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and is now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 3897979 or visiting blindveterans.org.uk