Signed address from Helen Keller
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.
Helen Keller was also a trustee of the Blind Relief War Fund, which greatly supported Blind Veterans UK in our early years. The Blind Relief War Fund was founded on 11th November 1915 by wine merchant George Kessler and his wife Cora. After George escaped alive from the Torpedoing of the RMS Lusitania, he vowed he would dedicate his life to help veterans. While recovering in hospital, George met our founder Sir Arthur Pearson and was inspired to help the blinded men of WWI.
They left the European arm of the fund to be run from a head office in Paris and returned to America to continue their work supporting blinded war veterans. In America they met deaf blind author and activist Helen Keller. She gave her full support to the fund, becoming one of the founding trustees.
Helen Keller was very well known, not only in the blind community but also globally. She was regarded as a highly remarkable woman, overcoming both deafness and blindness to go on to have a very sucessful career as an author.
As a friend of Sir Arthur Pearson, she visited our centre in Regent's Park and in 1918, she wrote a letter to the men of Blind Veterans UK (then St Dunstan's) at Regent's Park and it was published in The Review:
"Will you give the blinded soldiers and sailors a message from me. At first they will find it hard, very hard, to readjust their lives. Some of them will stand before the closed gates of vision with angry rebellious hearts. Others will mope and fret and feel that the burden laid upon them is too great for their strength. To them I speak of the fullness of my own experience. Wait a little, dear boys, - in time you will feel as much at home in the dark as you ever did in the light. Blindness has halted you by the way. Make most of the delay, think, look about you and you will find many things you have never noticed before. You will discover unsuspected beauties by the wayside, bright little surprises, unexpected tenderness and campionship."
Below, Helen Keller and Ian Fraser:
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
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 Old Bill Fraternity was a subscription scheme for products made by blind veterans.
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.