Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

D-Day 80: Take on a challenge during June to support blind veterans

BLIND Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, is calling for people to take on a fundraising challenge in the month of June to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day and National Armed Forces Day.

On 6 June, the United Kingdom will come together to commemorate the Normandy landings. This historic operation saw the Allied Forces mount the largest seaborne mission in history which resulted in the liberation of France and ultimately changed the course of the Second World War in favour of victory for the Allies.

Almost 133,000 troops from the Allied Forces landed on D-Day. 4,414 Allied troops were killed and over 5,000 were wounded, these men paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

Blind veteran Harry Howorth, 102, from Merseyside, was one of those who fought hard for our freedom 80 years ago. 

Harry was in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry and is the last survivor of over 28,000 men who landed at Sword Beach.

Harry’s battalion was part of the first wave of the assault, tasked with destroying a gun battery that was targeting ships in the channel. 

Harry said:

“On the morning of D-Day – in your mind, it was just like another exercise, you’d done it so often – all of a sudden, I saw a ship next to mine, and a big hole appeared in the side of the ship. I didn’t hear any noise, but a few seconds after was a big noise. No doubt nearly all of that battalion were killed. It brought it home that this was it.

“You never forget. You can even see some of the faces of your comrades who didn’t make it. There were 17,000 who gave their lives. They are the people to remember.”

Harry lost his sight due to macular degeneration later in life and recently began to receive support from Blind Veterans UK.

Harry said:

“There’s some very, very nice people that have visited me from the charity and they’ve made my life a lot easier. 

“I was having difficulty seeing my watch and the charity sent me a new watch which I can see and which also talks to me. They are also going to bring me something so I can read the newspaper because I do miss the paper and it’ll be marvellous to read it again.”

Blind Veterans UK has many activities planned to ensure the veterans they support can be part of commemorations and celebrations taking place throughout June.

If you, or your organisation, are looking for ways you can mark this poignant month, while also raising money to provide life-changing support to veterans like Harry, there are lots of ways in which you can do this. 

Perhaps you could highlight the 80th anniversary of D-Day by getting creative with “80” or step back in time to the 1940s. 

You could plan a fundraising challenge with an £80 target per person, bake 80 cakes for your work colleagues, walk, run or cycle 80 kilometres during the month of June or hold a 1940s tea dance. 

If you would like to find out more about taking on a challenge for Blind Veterans UK visit the charity’s website: blindveterans.org.uk/afm.

Harry is one of 16 veterans who have been interviewed about their D-Day experiences by Blind Veterans UK to commemorate the 80th anniversary.

His full story will be shared in a special commemorative booklet on the Blind Veterans UK website.      

Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.     

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit: blindveterans.org.uk/gethelp.   

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