Happy New Year!
Throughout 2015 we will be celebrating our history through 100 objects that represent Blind Veterans UK and the work that we do.
The first object we are revealing is a very special letter dating from 1916, written by our founder Sir Arthur Pearson.
One of the main aims of our founder, Sir Arthur Pearson, was to build up the confidence of Service men returning blinded from the First World War. As a blind man himself, he wanted to offer the training and support to blinded veterans to ensure that they could lead fulfilling lives and support themselves and their families, with many having successful careers.
In 2003, Billy trained to take on the world record to be the Fastest Blind Man on a Motorbike! He broke the Guinness World Record by 24 mph and was recorded as the fastest blind man on a motorbike travelling at an incredible speed of 165 mph.
Braille typewriters are an early important object in our charity's history as they functioned hand in hand with the charity's aim of teaching independence to veterans with severe vision impairment.
Our very first minute book, which documents the early years of our charity from 1915 to 1921.
An 'early record' was kept for each veteran to ensure that they received the best possible support, rehabilitation and training.
This was the first income our charity received and represented the opening of our support to veterans who had lost their sight in the First World War.
One of our most precious objects - the Chapel - opened its doors in 1938 next to, and as part of, our training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton.
Did you know that the talking book was first dreamed up by blind veteran Captain Ian Fraser while listening to a gramophone at St Dunstan's (now known as Blind Veterans UK) early rehabilitation centre?
The Blind Veterans UK branded taxi has been with us for over 17 years and taken veterans, staff and supporters on many important journeys during its time.
Every year, Blind Veterans UK holds a ceremony called the 'Founders Day Awards' where veterans with severe sight loss who've made an outstanding achievement during the year are awarded recognition for their efforts. The date of the awards is particularly significant as on the 26 March 1915, 16 blinded soldiers entered the training centre in Regents Park, London, so they are held on that day every year.
The St Dunstan's Clock is a very special addition to the Story of Blind Veterans UK in 100 Objects, as the clock was the centrepiece of St Dunstan's Lodge - the site of our early training and rehabilitation centre, and source of our previous name, St Dunstan's.