Monday, 24/2/2020 | 5:45 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Blind North-East veteran will join march to Cenotaph

A BLIND veteran from the North-East will join a march to the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday.

Jack Mays, from Brotton, east Cleveland, is joining more than 100 other blind veterans in the sombre march as part of the capital city’s remembrance commemorations.

The 83-year-old, who is there on behalf of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women, said: “The noise coming from the crowds as you go along Whitehall is just amazing.

“When I was young I used to watch the parade and think how much I’d like to do that one day. I feel very proud to be there alongside my fellow blind veterans.”

Mr Mays joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when he was just 16 years old.

He trained at Arborfield in Berkshire and was later sent to Tripoli in Libya and Tunis in Tunisia in order to recover some British vehicles abandoned after the Second World War.

He said: “It was an incredibly exciting time for me.

“We were sent into the desert to reclaim these deserted vehicles. There was always a rush to recover the NAAFI parachutes as they had chocolate, cigarettes and beer inside.”

After his time in Tunis Mr Mays was sent to Singapore in 1959 as part of the newly-formed Singapore Defence Army.

His career in the Army spanned over two-and-a-half decades, in which he travelled the world.

It was during a posting in Lincolnshire when his complications with sight loss began. He was working in a workshop when a piece of wire flung off the machine he was working on, struck him, and blinded him in one eye.

He went on to have further complications with his sight and was diagnosed with cataracts, but found the “misinformation” about sight loss confusing, which is when he contacted Blind Veterans UK in 2014 for help.

The charity gave him specialist equipment to help him read and even sent him on an adrenaline weekend, where he went skiing, snowboarding and even on a rollercoaster. This November coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme, and the charity supported more than 250 veterans who lost their sight at the battle.