A former RAF serviceman from Heathfield is set to march to the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday (November 13) with the charity Blind Veterans UK.
Dave Yeomans, who lost his sight due to complications from diabetes, will take part in the march with more than 100 other blind veterans who are supported by the charity around the UK.
Now 80-years-old, Mr Yeomans joined the Royal Air Force in 1953 and served in the RAF Police as a leading aircraftman acting corporal in both the UK and in Singapore.
He said: “I was based at RAF Tengah in Singapore and in active Service there. I became ill and initially didn’t know what it was but had to be taken off active Service. It later turned out that all my health problems were connected to diabetes.”
Mr Yeomans left Singapore on the Empire Fowey, a troop ship, for his journey home to the UK. This turned into an epic nine-week voyage, during which the ship was forced to detour by the Suez Crisis. He was medically discharged from the RAF in 1959.
He lost his sight due to diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes. His sight has deteriorated gradually and he now has less than 15 per cent vision
In 2014, He started receiving help and support from Blind Veterans UK's training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton and has been given special filter glasses to block out glare as well as a computer program that magnifies the screen.
Mr Yeomans now raises money for Blind Veterans UK along with fellow members of his local RAF Police Association. Earlier this year, he helped raise more than £560 for the charity after completing a 120 feet zip wire descent from its centre in Ovingdean.
He said: “I was more scared before setting off than I expected to be. I abseiled down the Grand Hotel last year and that was easier because you’re going backwards and don’t get the chance to look down.
“You get the count down. Five, four, three, two, one and then you feel the hands on your back and get a big push. I ended with a few bumps on the ground and was laughing my head off!
“It was my local ophthalmic consultant that put me onto Blind Veterans UK. And I can say that I am absolutely delighted that he did.
“I now treat my blindness as something that’s given me my life, not something that is killing my life. I am doing things now that I would never have done in my life without Blind Veterans UK.”
He is now set to march with other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations in London.
Mr Yeomans said: “This is the first time I have ever had the privilege to march at the Cenotaph. I am also going to the Sir Arthur Pearson Memorial with other blind veterans the day before, he was the founder of Blind Veterans UK so that will be very special.”
This November coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme. Blind Veterans UK supported more than 250 blinded veterans who lost their sight at the Somme.
Chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB says: “This year’s Remembrance Sunday is particularly poignant as our delegation of current blind veterans remember those blinded at the Somme but also those who didn’t make it back.
“Today, Blind Veterans UK supports more blind and vision-impaired veterans than ever before in the charity’s history and we have set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans we support in the next five years.”
To find out more about the charity call 0800 389 7979 or visit noonealone.org.uk.
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