A former soldier who lost his eyesight through an age-related condition is 'back to his old self' thanks to help from a charity.
Stewart Haywood, 77, of Birdwell, lost his eyesight through macula degeneration, which affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of the eye called the macula. He was registered blind in 2010 and following the diagnosis found every day tasks were becoming more difficult and started to feel isolated from those around him.
He said: "I didn't feel able to do anything. I would just sit in my chair and watch TV – or rather, try to watch TV, because I couldn't see it very well and had to try really hard to make out what was going on." Stewart joined the Blind Veterans UK earlier this year, the charity for blind ex-Servicemen and women, and is learning to live with sight loss.
But Stewart admits even attending the charity's centre in Sheffield was a struggle. He added: "The day I was first due to go, I almost cried off. I was scared of going, frankly, and I didn't feel like anyone could help me.
"I'm so glad that I did, though. I've met other veterans going through the same things as me – it's like being part of a family. Facing my sight loss isn't scary anymore and my wife has said that I'm back to my old self now."
Like millions of young men of his generation, Stewart had to complete National Service after he turned 18. He joined the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment in 1954 and served with 29th Brigade HQ at Deal. His National Service largely consisted of training and manoeuvres in preparation for the possibility of another war and he earned a commendation for marksmanship. He trained at Dover Castle, among other places, and was discharged as a Private in 1956.