Caernarfon blind veteran has her life back thanks to a charity

Reporter:

James Wilde

A blind veteran from Caernarfon who would have spent Christmas alone, will now celebrate Christmas with fellow ex-servicemen and women.

Heulwen Riley, aged 88, enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1947 and served for two years as an aircraft woman.

Her husband of 58 years died several years ago and her sister also passed away three years ago. Since then she has spent Christmas at her niece’s until this year when she will be joining ex-forces personnel at Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno.

Mrs Riley started experiencing problems with her sight around ten years ago.

She had cataracts removed but her eyesight deteriorated after this and she was diagnosed with both glaucoma and macular degeneration.

After 36 years of driving, she had to give it up.

She said: “I was very depressed about losing my sight and after my husband died I became very lonely. Sometimes I didn’t want to go on.”

She learned about a Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno, contacted the charity and started to receive their free support in May this year.

She said: “Blind Veterans UK gave me my life back, I love the place. I have made such good friends there. The staff treat you like a normal person, not like an invalid.

With Christmas in less than a week Mrs Riley is all packed and ready to take part in festivities.

She said: “I can’t wait to spend Christmas at the centre in Llandudno, I’m already packed. I’m most looking forward to meeting my friends and seeing the lovely staff. Some of them speak Welsh so it’s nice to get to speak it as I’ve never forgotten it.

“Blind Veterans UK has changed my life, in fact, they have saved my life. They have been so good to me.”

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women, providing practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss.

If you, or someone you know, served in the forces and are now battling severe sight loss, telephone 0800 389 7979 or visit noonealone.org.uk.

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