Published 28 February 2017

The Countess of Wessex yesterday opened a new facility in Llandudno helping seriously injured veterans learn vital life skills in her first engagement as Patron of military charity Blind Veterans UK. Built in partnership between Blind Veterans UK and Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, the new building will provide a rehabilitation environment to support essential life skills for independent living. The facility will help veterans who have lost their sight, limbs, or both and will provide particular support to those at risk of becoming homeless.

In her first visit since taking over the Patronage of the charity from The Queen, The Countess of Wessex saw the broad scope of services the charity offers to veterans who have lost their sight. These included the charity’s Art and Craft studio where blind veterans produce paintings, wood works and textiles. Some veterans are learning these skills for the first time while others have re-learned old skills and adapted new techniques to be able to continue with hobbies or work they have enjoyed for many years.

The Countess met Bill, 74, from County Durham, who is a regular visitor to the Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno. He had been a wood turner since 1959 but stopped when he lost his sight. Bill has since been trained by Blind Veterans UK staff to use a lathe again and continues to be an extremely talented Master Craftsman. He presented The Countess of Wessex with a handmade pen that he turned himself as well as three other pens for Her Royal Highness’s family.

All of the accommodation has been designed to integrate seamless adaptations to support physical disability whilst providing a realistic home environment. The veterans are able to stay in the accommodation for short and long stays of up to six months. This provides an opportunity to comprehensively reassess their needs, make relevant adjustments, and make recommendations for ongoing community interventions.

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.