Tennis was instrumental in fundraising activity for us in 1920s, as well as providing gainful employment for blind veterans.
This medal was given as a sporting prize to those participating in tennis tournaments run in aid of Blind Veterans UK. The 'St Dunstan's Tennis Fund' was set up to encourage tennis clubs to either run charity tournaments or have collections at their clubs and events. The fund had full support of the Lawn Tennis Association and raised a substantial amount of money in the 1920s.
Not only was tennis a fun way for members of the public to fundraise for us but it also provided useful employment for blind veterans.
In 1921, French tennis player Suzanne Lengmen (below) came to visit our hostel on Bayswater Road. She was considered to be the first female tennis celebrity and had a very successful career, winning twelve grand slam titles including Wimbledon six times. Tactile tasks were extremely popular skills taught to blind veterans and this included making tennis nets. Lengmen was a keen maker of tennis nets as well so she was very interested in our activity. She pledged to promote the nets made by blind veterans in France to increase sales. About her visit and time spent with the men, she said "I am very impressed by the happiness of the men. It would you think make you so sad to be without sight, and is it not wonderful that although the sight is not there, the intelligence shines still more brightly?"
Massage has long been a chosen career for the blind and in 1950, two blind veterans used their skills to gain positions as physiotherapists at Wimbledon! Douglas Calder and F. Hume Crowe gave physiotherapy treatment during the two weeks of this world-famous tennis tournament, putting into practice training they had received from Blind Veterans UK. They were on hand to treat any sprains or injuries of any kind, listening to the matches on a wireless radio between treatments. They said it was an "interesting experience" to meet so many tennis stars and there was a "great air of excitement" to be at an international tournament like Wimbledon and contributing to its success is a "privilege as well as a unique experience."
This is a book written by a former staff member and volunteer about the rich history of Blind Veterans UK.
Paddle Round the Pier is an charity beach and watersports festival held annually in Brighton.
Tandem bikes have been a part of our history since we were founded in 1915, they are a unique and innovative way for blind veterans to safely travel about and exercise.
At Blind Veterans UK, we take our cakes very seriously.
Two tactile grandfather clocks which stand in both in our Headquarters in London and at our oldest centre in Brighton were made by an extraordinary blind veteran named Fred Galway.