A blind veteran from Cambridgeshire is set to march at the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday (10/11) with the charity Blind Veterans UK.
Jim Sexton, 96 and from Peterborough will be marching at the Cenotaph as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations with more than 100 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Jim joined the Army in 1942. He initially joined the Manchester Regiment, then transferred to the 2nd Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, serving in Algeria, Italy and Greece.
In 1945, Jim retrained as a cook in Athens and became part of the Catering Corps until he was discharged in 1947 as a corporal.
“Being in the Army was a brilliant experience for me. I come from an Army family and I honestly believe there’s nothing like the camaraderie of Service life.”
When Jim left the Army he became a storeman for an engineering firm, and he lost his right eye due to a work-related accident in the 1950s. Much later he developed age-related macular degeneration in his left eye.
Fortunately, Jim found out about Blind Veterans UK after hearing about them through the local council and has been supported by the charity since 2015.
“Blind Veterans UK have made a huge difference in my life. The training and equipment like the specially adapted tablet I’ve been given and shown how to use means that I can keep in touch with friends.”
Alongside equipment and training, Jim says the thing that has made the biggest difference since joining Blind Veterans UK is the friends he has made and camaraderie that has returned to his life.
“I’ve made lots of great friends. This year I arranged to visit the Blind Veterans UK centre in Brighton for a holiday at the same time as my friend Bob. It was at the time of the D-Day anniversary and Bob was there so the two of us went up to HMS Belfast for a special event.
“We meet up locally for lunches too and a nice group of us are booked in to visit the other Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno next year.”
Jim will be marching with 100 other blind veterans at the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday.
“I will be so proud to march with Blind Veterans UK again. I’m 96 now but I’m sure that I’ll make it round.
“At Remembrance, I think of both my dad and grandad who fought during the Battle of the Somme as well as the brother my dad lost during the First World War.
“When I was ten years old I marched with my dad and grandad on Remembrance Sunday in London, so it always brings back strong memories.
Blind Veterans UK was founded more than 100 years ago to support those blinded in the First World War. Now, the charity supports veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB said:
“Jim will rightly be proud to march with our blind veterans this Remembrance Sunday. This is the time of year when we reflect on the sacrifice and service of all our members of the Armed Forces and their families.
“Today we support more blind veterans than ever before in our history, but we know there are many more who still need our support to rebuild their lives following their sight loss. I would encourage anyone who thinks they know someone who could be entitled to our support to get in touch today.”
Visit blindveterans.org.uk to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work today.