Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women, is highlighting the story of wife and carer Trudy Pile from Somerset on Carers Rights Day which takes place on Friday 28 November. Trudy left her full time job as a civil servant to look after her husband.
45-year-old Trudy from Bath, Somerset, is one of 6.5 million unpaid carers living in the UK, despite the crucial role she plays in looking after Mark, 50, an ex-Service man, whose failing eye sight left him unable to do many basic things himself. The couple previously received little emotional or practical support until they found Blind Veterans UK.
Blind Veterans UK offers free services and support to vision-impaired ex-Service men and women and their families. The charity also provide emotional support and a wide range of equipment and social activities through its UK-wide network of welfare officers and community services and service centres in Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales as well as its centre in Brighton.
For over a decade, Trudy (pictured above) has been both a loving wife and carer to Mark, who was a former Army reservist. Mark suffers from amblyopia, a rare, hereditary condition that has worsened over time, until he was registered as blind over five years ago.
Blind Veterans UK recognises the enormous contribution people like Trudy make, and that’s why it is reaching out to more veterans and their carers who could be benefitting from its services and support.
Trudy says: “Blind Veterans UK has transformed our lives. Mark became increasingly depressed because of his ill health; he lost his confidence and he was forced to stop doing things that he used to love to do, like driving and fishing. There had to be somebody with him at all times – it was a 24/7 job.
‘Becoming Mark’s carer affected me dramatically. It can be very difficult at times. It’s physically and emotionally draining and it can be very isolating. It sometimes felt as though I was more of a nurse than a wife.”
Trudy says this has all changed now thanks to Blind Veterans UK.
She continues: “Blind Veterans UK has turned our lives around. Getting involved with the charity is the best thing we’ve ever done. We’ve always had a good relationship, but it’s made our relationship even stronger.”
As an ex-Service man with severe sight loss, Mark was eligible for help from Blind Veterans UK. The charity currently helps over 5,000 veterans, carers and families to adjust to life with sight loss as it believes that no one who has served their country should battle blindness alone, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.
“Getting involved with Blind Veterans UK is the best thing we’ve ever done. I would encourage anyone who is in a similar situation to give the charity a call.
Mark and Trudy
‘Blind Veterans UK has given me precious time to enjoy and Mark has been given his independence back, which is amazing! It means I can start doing things and going out with friends again.”
Blind Veterans UK’s No One Alone campaign is reaching out to more veterans and their carers, like Mark and Trudy. Carers play a vital role in referring those eligible to the charity as well as providing much needed care at home. It is estimated that there are over 68,000 blind veterans and families who could be eligible for the charity’s help but are unaware of it.
If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and is now battling severe sight problems, Blind Veterans UK may be able to provide them and their family with a lifetime’s practical and emotional support for free.