Deaf-blind ex-soldier to remember comrades at Cenotaph

Frank Berry
Frank Berry

A registered deaf-blind ex-soldier will be remembering friends and family when he takes part in the Remembrance Sunday march at the Cenotaph with Blind Veterans UK.

Frank Berry, 76, of Long Buckby, will be marching in London with more than 100 other representatives of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women.

Frank joined the Army Catering Corps in October 1957 and went on to serve for four years.

He has many memories of his service in Cyprus where he was stationed at the Kyrenia Mountains, the border between the Turkish and Cypriot sides of the island.

He said: “I’ve never been back, there are too many sad memories.

“But there were good times when we had a break – swimming and playing football.

“We didn’t like the climate though – we lived in tents and found it too hot so we were always praying for rain.

“In the catering corps we cooked everything for the regiment from cooked breakfast to baking bread from scratch, all following recipes from an Army cookbook.

“Before national service I was a butcher but I had never cooked much.

“But by the time I got married I was a better cook than my wife!”

Frank started to lose his sight in early 2005.

He said: “Despite having regular tests for glaucoma I ended up in hospital as my sight rapidly deteriorated.

“I had very high pressure in the eye and they told me if they didn’t do anything I would be blind within 24 hours.

“They finally did get the pressure down, but by 2006 I only had poor pinhole vision due to advanced glaucoma.”

A friend recommended Frank get in touch with Blind Veterans UK, and since then he has received free and comprehensive support to help him live independently with sight loss.

He said: “Blind Veterans UK has made a huge difference to me.

“At the Blind Veterans UK centres I learned about simple things I could do to make my daily life easier and simpler.

“I didn’t cook any more after I lost my sight, but now I’ve got techniques that help me in the kitchen, like stickers that tell me when the hobs are on.

“I don’t cook as much as I used to, but I make a particularly good Yorkshire pudding!

“I also have a gadget to put on a mug which bleeps if it’s going to overflow with hot water.

“I go to Blind Veterans UK social get-togethers at a venue in Northampton – we have a meal together three times a year.

“Blind Veterans UK has also given me a sense of security that if God forbid, anything should happen to my wife, I would have somewhere to go to.

“I’m now less worried about the future. When I went to the Blind Veterans UK’s centre in Brighton I saw that it was a brilliant place and the people who lived there were really happy.”

For the past four years Frank has also had a guide dog called Quasia who has greatly increased his confidence and enabled him to get out and about on his own.

On Sunday, November 9, Frank will be one of more than 100 vision impaired veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK who will take part in the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations at the Cenotaph in London.

He said: “I think it’s important to remember those who have passed away.

“Remembrance Sunday should never die out. I’ve ordered the sun to shine on the day and if I wink at the Queen I might get a free meal!”

For more information about Blind Veterans UK’s work, please visit .