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Blind Veterans compete in Sultan Summer Camp sports day

9 August 2016
A group of Service veterans have been proving that having limited or no sight is no barrier to sport at the HMS Sultan Blind Veterans UK Summer Camp Sports Day.

Every year, blind veterans from across the UK head to the Hampshire Naval engineering training Establishment in order to take part in an 8 day summer camp.

Basketball, hockey and penalty taking were among the many Sports Day activities on offer and throughout the rest of this week the veterans will continue to take on a number of other exciting challenges in the local community, including fishing, gliding and archery.

Originally held at HMS Daedalus, by the Fleet Air Arm’s Field Gun Crew, the Summer Camp has been taking place since the late 1940s, with multiple generations of Field Gunners still involved. 

I’m fortunate that I can see a little bit, but seeing what some of the others are achieving without any sight is just marvellous and makes me think, if they can do it I can.

Bill Savage

This year marks the Camp’s 20th year within HMS Sultan after the event moved across to the Establishment along with Air Engineering Training in 1996.

92 year old Veteran Bill Savage served in the Royal Navy between 1941-1947 he said: “Every year I’m dying to get here and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

“It’s great fun and great to be back in the Service for the week.”

“I’ve always enjoyed sport and it does get harder as you get older, I try and keep as fit as I can and this is the best way to do it.

“I’m fortunate that I can see a little bit, but seeing what some of the others are achieving without any sight is just marvellous and makes me think, if they can do it I can.”

Blind Veterans UK  Region Director of Welfare Services for the East Mark Lovatt said: “It’s just fantastic, I think for a lot of these guys it will take them back, as military gyms are just the same as they would have been when they would have been servicemen, so I think that connection back for them is fantastic.

“It’s great to see them back doing something active.”

“Losing your sight is devastating and I think one of the first things it will affect is your confidence, because almost everything that you could do before becomes so much more difficult.

“What we try to do is try and restore that confidence.

“These sorts of activities, most people would see them as sighted but actually when you see the guys doing them they can all do them and all participate and do really well at them.”

Commander Mark Hamilton the Executive Officer of HMS Sultan said: “We are delighted to welcome the Veterans in to HMS Sultan once more.

“This year we celebrate our own 60th anniversary and, as we look back, it’s a privilege to see how the Camp has become woven in to the fabric of the Establishment.”

“The Camp offers a fantastic opportunity for the veterans to experience and explore activities that wouldn’t normally be available to them and to enjoy being part of the Service community.”

“The courage and determination demonstrated by each one of them is an excellent example to us all.”

For more information on Blind Veterans UK visit www.blindveterans.org.uk

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