A PROUD blind Army veteran from Rugby is set to march at the Cenotaph in London for the first time this Remembrance Sunday (November 14).
Wayne Perry, 62, will be marching with more than 30 other veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Wayne, who volunteers as a Standard Bearer for the Rugby No.1 branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “I’m really looking forward to the weekend.
“Remembrance means a lot to me as many of my family are ex-military, including my father, brother, uncles and cousins. My father was in the Royal Signals and was sadly injured in a bombing during the 1950s uprising in Cyprus. My grandfather was also in the First World War at 14 years of age.
“It does mean a lot to say thank you to all those who tried to keep peace and without them, we wouldn’t be the country that we are today.”
Wayne joined the Army in 1975 as a solider in the Junior Leaders Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, transferring into the adult regiment in 1976. He worked in countries including the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Northern Ireland, enjoying a range of roles, particularly in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars, Queen Mary’s Own. Wayne also represented the British Army at junior and senior level football.
He left the Army in 1993 when his vision became impaired due to macular damage caused by Toxoplasmosis, a blood-borne disease that results from an infection from a parasite.
He said: “When I first got the illness, it hit me hard. I was a young man, doing well in my military career, playing football at junior and senior level for the Army. And I lost all of that overnight.”
Wayne – who, like 95 per cent of people who are registered as blind, has some usable vision – started receiving support from Blind Veterans UK in 2019.
“Blind Veterans UK have been brilliant because they get you to realise there is a life there. I got to go adventure training in Cambridge, and to go skiing in Italy. I thoroughly enjoyed that.
“Blind Veterans put me in touch with Warwickshire Vision Support. With the help of both organisations, I have been given glasses to help me watch the TV, a liquid level indicator that stops me from burning my fingers when pouring, and small adaptations for the microwave and cooker so I can feel where the different switches and levels are.”
Blind Veterans UK was founded more than 100 years ago to support those blinded in the First World War. Now, the charity supports veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.
Visit www.blindveterans.org.uk for more information about the charity and how to support it.