To mark National Eye Health Week, (18-24 September), sight loss charity Blind Veterans UK has partnered with Sussex Eye Hospital to launch an exhibition of artworks by blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
The exhibition features artworks by blind and vison-impaired ex-Service men and women and includes nine decorative mosaic panels which reflect scenes of Sussex life, such as Brighton pier and the South Downs.
They were created in the art and craft studio of the Blind Veterans UK's rehabilitation centre in Brighton as part of a group project, involving veterans from across the UK, and can be seen at the Sussex Eye Hospital.
Fran McSweeney, Blind Veterans UK Regional Manager, said: "Getting involved with art and craft in our workshops is a lifeline for many of the blind veterans we support because it allows them to engage with an activity in an environment that accommodates their vision impairment and is often a first step in their adaptation to sight loss."
"The beautiful artworks on display at Sussex Eye Hospital are a testament to the creativity and tenacity of the blind veterans we support, demonstrating that there is life beyond sight loss."
Sussex blind veteran John Taylor, 79, has been supported by Blind Veterans UK for nearly 12 years, and visits the charity's Brighton centre twice weekly to take part in different activities.
John was called up for National Service in 1957 and served in the RAF in both the UK and Hong Kong. He was diagnosed with glaucoma after he was demobbed but has since discovered a love of art and craft through Blind Veterans UK.
"Even though I've lost my sight I can still use touch to feel the artwork I'm creating. I find it very therapeutic, and there's a wonderful social element to being in the art and craft studio with other blind veterans. I hope visitors to Sussex Eye Hospital will enjoy our creations and be inspired by them."
The exhibition launch was attended by veterans and their families, hospital staff, and local charities.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Kemptown and Peacehaven said "I was delighted to attend the Blind Veterans UK and Sussex Eye Hospital exhibition launch. It was fantastic to see the work of the very talented veteran artists and to hear how the support of Blind Veterans UK has made such a tangible impact on their lives. I've been in the waiting room of Sussex Eye Hospital a number of times myself and I know having artwork on the walls really does calm you down when you're feeling anxious. Blind Veterans UK is a brilliant charity providing a vital service, and it makes me proud that they are based here; they are a truly valued organisation within the local community."
Evelyn Barker, Managing Director of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We are delighted to host this exhibition to mark National Eye Health Week and to celebrate the partnership between the Sussex Eye Hospital and Blind Veterans UK. The blind veterans' works of art are a wonderful addition to the hospital and they will be enjoyed by our patients, visitors and staff."
Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss.
The charity estimates that there are currently 59,000 ex-Service men and women battling severe sight loss who could be eligible for support but who do not realise it.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and is now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting blindveterans.org.uk
It doesn't matter when or how a veteran lost their sight, or when they served, Blind Veterans UK can help.