Art by blind UK veterans to go under the e-hammer
By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
Artwork created by blind veterans during lockdown is going under the e-hammer to raise money for charity.
The unique pieces were created by former servicemen and servicewomen as part of their rehabilitation.
The annual exhibition, organised by Blind Veterans UK, would normally be hosted at their centre in Brighton, but with the ongoing pandemic the art show has moved online.
The 24 works of art are being sold on eBay to raise money for the charity, which supports more than 4,500 veterans across the country who have varying levels of sight impairment.
Among the veterans contributing artwork is 63-year-old Christine Collins, from Pickering in North Yorkshire.
She said: “Before my sight severely worsened I was really into art but then I lost interest.
“Blind Veterans UK got me back into it at their Llandudno rehabilitation centre and then set me up with an art station at home.
“Then this opportunity came up during lockdown and I had to take it.”
Ms Collins entered the RAF in 1977 and spent seven years as a clerk where she fondly remembers organising flying courses for the Jaguar Squadron.
At the age of 53, a genetic condition that she had had since birth suddenly revealed itself and her sight rapidly deteriorated.
She says Blind Veterans UK have been supporting her since: “I’ve done cookery courses which have taught me how to prepare food safely and been taught how to use a tablet which enables me to stay in touch with friends and family.”
Blind 86-year-old RAF veteran Richard Holmes, from Brighton, was thrilled to provide a piece of music to be played alongside the online exhibition.
He said: “I’ve spent my whole life writing and playing music for the West End, BBC and many more.
“So when the chance came up to give back and provide some music for the charity that has been so good to me, I had to take it.”
After basic training at RAF Bridgnorth, Mr Holmes was posted to join the Central RAF Band at RAF Uxbridge as pianist and trumpet player.
Louise Kirk-Partridge, rehab lead in the Art & Craft Department at Blind Veterans UK, says: “Having the chance to pursue the creative arts is a fantastic way for our veterans to regain confidence after sight loss.
“This exhibition is a real opportunity to showcase that there really is no barrier for its enjoyment, while also raising much-needed funds for the charity.”
The 24 unique pieces of artwork, specially created for the exhibition, are open for bidding on eBay between October 20 and 30, with all funds raised going to Blind Veterans UK.
Visit blindveterans.org.uk/artexhibition for more information.