Old Bill Fraternity
The Old Bill Fraternity was a subscription scheme for products made by blind veterans.
When we were first founded, around 60% of blind veterans learned a craft - basket making, mat making and carpentry were popular choices. The men receieved support from what was then the St Dunstans Sale Department, they would supply the materials and then buy back the items from the craftsmen. However, sales were seriouly affected in the economic downturn of the 1920s and stocks of goods piled up in our warehouse.
To remedy the situation, a subscription club was started, helped along by using Bruce Bairnsfather's famous 'Old Bill' cartoon chartacter for advertising. Bruce bespoke designed a new cartoon especially for this service. The subscription meant that members regularly received items made by blind veterans, purchasing five shillings worth of products a year. The Old Bill fraternity continued sucessfully into the 1930s, with members including the late Queen Mother and the then Prince of Wales.
A tray made by blind veterans during WWII and embellished by Japanese Fighter Pilot Harry O'Hara
For 100 years we have been supported by dedicated volunteers.
Reunions have always been an important part of the support we offer to blind veterans
100k walk medals from 1923 to 2015
Our oldest veteran to have ever lived had a bus named in his honour in Brighton and Hove
Our famous London to Brighton 100k walk has been a Blind Veterans UK tradition since 1923.
Braille printers are revolutionary pieces of technology that allow texts to be translated into Braille.
Screen reading software both magnifies and read texts to allow blind veterans to read on their computer, use the internet, send emails and magnify documents and letters.
Ann Quin was a Sussex novelist who worked for Blind Veterans UK as a short-hand typist
Being able to tell the time without sight is an important step towards independence for the blind.
"If people want to hear music - music with a large capital "M" - let them come to St Dunstan's some day.." The Review, 1917
A signed address by Helen Keller from the World Conference on Work for the Blind. This address was given to Ian Fraser, our chairman at the time who was in attendance at the conference.
Fundraising has always been vital to the work of Blind Veterans UK.
During WWI, we sold postcards to raise money to continue our services for blind veterans.
Our centre in Brighton is more than 75 years old and was the first purpose-built rehabilitation centre for the blind.
The winged victory is a sculpture above the chapel at our centre in Brighton.
Sink the Bismarck is a 1960s black & white war film about the chase and sinking of the German battle ship the Bismarck.