Veterans

A Sports Day With A Difference: Blind Veterans Share 'Banter' With Volunteers During Special Event

Activities such as basketball, hockey and hoop throwing were all part of the programme.

HMS Sultan has hosted an annual activity week for blind veterans, with volunteers helping to bring the community together.

Physical Training Instructors from the Royal Navy’s shore base in Hampshire welcomed those with limited or no sight to partake in a week-long games event.

Activities such as basketball, hockey and hoop throwing have been organised every year since 1947 by the Blind Veterans UK charity.

Since the closure of HMS Daedalus in 1996, the sports hall at HMS Sultan has hosted the event, which brings out some of the liveliest from the veteran community.

Richard Cruce, formerly from 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, praised the atmosphere when participants come together:

“It’s all fantastic banter, it’s absolutely wonderful."

“Civvies don’t normally get it, but we do because we’re all ex-forces.

“It’s all in great fun, it helps everyone bond together.”

Staff at HMS Sultan help veterans throughout the week.

The relationship between the blind veterans and their human helpers, who they jokingly referred to as their “dogs”, made the experience even more fun.

Having left their own four-legged friends back at home, participants relied on the help of willing volunteers to guide their sporting endeavours.

“They’re the ones who are supposed to look after us, but sometimes it works the other way around,” joked Brian Durber, ex-Royal Navy.

Dave Hazelwood taking on the 'guide dog' role with Brian Durber, formerly of the Royal Navy.

Instructor Andy Salter is happy with the progress the charity event has made since HMS Sultan “picked up the mantle” for the blind veteran community:

“HMS Sultan have done a fantastic job to continue promoting and supporting blind veterans ever since.”