A blind veteran from Seaford has been nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award in this year’s Soldiering On Awards.
Ray Hazan OBE, 71, is President of Blind Veterans UK and has received his nomination recognising his work with the charity for more than 40 years.
Ray, himself a blind veteran, has been supported by the charity since losing his sight in 1973. He was on his second tour of duty in Northern Ireland with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, when an IRA parcel bomb exploded in his hands. He was left totally blind, suffered severe hearing loss and lost his right hand. A fellow Officer was killed in the blast.
As an ex-Service man, Ray was eligible for free help and support from Blind Veterans UK.
He said: “I still remember my first day at Blind Veterans UK when I heard the chatter and laughter of other blind veterans. “The positive attitude of people I met made me realise that blindness was not so bad and that I too could go on to lead a fulfilling life just as they had.”
Ray went on to join Blind Veterans UK as a member of staff in 1977, and was elected President in 2004. He worked in the PR and Welfare departments, and was also editor of the charity’s monthly in-house magazine Review.
Ray retired in 2011 but is still the charity’s President. He was awarded an OBE in 2012 for his services to Blind Veterans UK and the blind community.
Ray added: “I’m extremely honoured to have been nominated for this award as it represents a lifetime of working with the finest organisation one could hope for, Blind Veterans UK.
“It will be a fantastic evening for me and my family and I always look forward to meeting up with others in the Service charity family too.”
The charity has also been nominated for an award in the Training category in recognition of its outstanding and pioneering work training blind and vision-impaired veterans for more than 100 years.
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in World War I. However, the organisation has since gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning World War II to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
The training provided has always been tailored to each veteran’s individual needs with the ultimate goal of providing new skills and equipment to help them live as independently as possible.
In the early years of the charity, blind veterans were trained in Braille, shorthand typing and occupational skills such as mat making, poultry farming and picture framing. Today, that training now focuses on using adaptive technology and IT as well as teaching life-skills such as cooking with sight loss.
Another important part of Blind Veterans UK’s training is that which is provided allowing veterans to continue to take part in, and learn new, activities and hobbies. These include sports such as archery and shooting as well as arts and crafts such as pottery and woodwork.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said: “I am delighted that the truly outstanding work of our rehabilitation and training team has been recognised with this nomination. This is work that changes people’s lives whether it be by allowing them to get back into work or to keep in touch with friends and family across the world.
“Blind Veterans UK is currently supporting more veterans than ever before in the charity’s history but there are still thousands of blind veterans out there who could be getting this same first class training.
“If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss then please get in touch with us.”
The Soldiering On Through Life Trust was established as a not-for-profit organisation to support Service personnel and their families throughout their lives by giving recognition of the inspirational and outstanding achievements of teams or individuals through an annual awards ceremony - The Soldiering On Awards: National recognition for the whole Armed Forces Community.
This year’s winners will be announced at the Soldiering On Awards on Friday, April 22 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, London.
Visit blindveterans.org.uk/support to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work.
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