St. Dunstan's Fantastic Four, blinded in the war but brought together by a common passion - darts!
The St. Dunstan's Four was a darts team founded in 1945 by Harry Allen - the chairman of the West Islington Darts League. The 'fantastic four' played exhibition matches to raise money for our cause and ethos - to provide support for veterans who have lost their sight fighting for our country. The St. Dunstan's Four's first match took place at the Bricklayer's Arms, Finsbury Park, the group raised £55 which is the equivalent to £2,000 today.
Little did they know at the time, the team captain, Joe Hitchcock, would later become one of the country's first sponsored darts players. During his three years as captain, Hitchcock only missed one match and was rarely ever defeated, hundreds came to see the star in action - a real celebrity!
During a match held on October 25 1945, the Dart Newspaper interviewed blind veteran, Mr. R. Vincent. Vincent, who had lost his hands and sight while serving for King and Country, expressed how grateful he was to St. Dunstan's: he told the audience he couldn't be more grateful to our charity as we "taught him to be happy" and we instilled independence in the ex - Service man.
The money raised through darts for St. Dunstan's was collected
through collection boxes in pubs and clubs throughout the country.
It was assumed that
the group's matches would just be restricted to London, however their elevated popularity meant that their exhibitions soon spread to all parts of England, Wales and Scotland - they were even in high demand by the press! In just over three years their efforts had paid off and they raised over £30,000 for St. Dunstan's which would be about £150,000 today.
Sir Arthur Pearson would have been proud.
St. Dunstan's shop opened by retail tycoon Gordon Selfridge, founder of Selfridges.
Legendary entertainer, George Formby serenades our blind veterans.
We take a look at how Blind Veterans UK became involved in the development of 'The Long Cane.'
In the summer of 2012, three of our blind veterans had the chance to carry the Olympic Torch.