A blind veteran from Seaford has been awarded the Trustees Award at this year’s Soldiering On Awards.
Ray Hazan OBE, 71, is President of Blind Veterans UK and received his award in recognition of his work with the charity for more than 40 years.
This award came as a complete shock to Ray. He attended the ceremony, held on Friday (April 22) at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London, because he had been nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award and had no idea that he was in line to receive this special award.
Ray said: “I was so pleased just to be nominated for the Lifetime Achievement award so when that came and passed I was resigned to the fact that it wasn’t my night but then I found that I was receiving this one. It was a lovely surprise”
The award was presented to Ray by celebrity chef and patron of the Royal London Society for Blind People, Monica Galetti. It is awarded at the discretion of the Soldiering On Through Life Trust’s trustees to recognise a person whose efforts have had a significant impact on the UK’s Armed Forces Community.
The citation with the award described Ray as ‘a blind veteran who epitomises the courage, commitment and resourcefulness of Blind Veterans UK, first as a client, then as a staff member and now as an ambassador and president’.
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: “The path that led me to this point, winning this award and the marvellous life I have had, is because there was a charity that existed called Blind Veterans UK.”
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.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said: “I am truly delighted that Ray has been recognised for his dedicated and inspiring work over the last 40 years.
“He is a shining example to all at Blind Veterans UK of what is possible and it is no exaggeration to say that his work has improved the lives of thousands of blind veterans in that time.”
Ray added: “This is a huge honour and particularly pleasing as it represents a lifetime working for such a brilliant organisation in Blind Veterans UK.
“It was a fantastic evening for me and my family and I will always be grateful to all of them for their support.”
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.
Visit blindveterans.org.uk/support to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work today.
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