Scottish War Blinded exhibition

Soldiers blinded during the First World War.
Soldiers blinded during the First World War.

Scottish War Blinded is the latest organisation to provide services from the Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Camelon, Falkirk.

To announce the arrival of the charity, which helps all veterans, a special, free exhibition into the effects of chemical warfare on soldiers in the First World War will be held at the Centre on November 11.

Titled ‘Silhouettes in the Fog & Guiding Lights: The Foundation of Scottish War Blinded’, the exhibition describes the development of chemical warfare in World War One, trauma care on the Western Front as well as attitude change in the UK and the rehabilitation and training provided to visually impaired soldiers by Scottish War Blinded. The exhibition is open from 10am-4pm and admission is free. Scottish War Blinded has worked with Imagineear to produce an audioguide accompaniment, an engaging presentation for general visitors, as well as an essential tool for visually-impaired people.

Jacquie Winning, Centre Manager, Forth Valley Sensory Centre said: “Scottish War Blinded bring another dimension to the services available here at the Centre. There is lots of crossover with our existing partners but at the same time, they are able to offer tailored support to our veterans, no matter how long ago they served or when their vision began to fail.

“To be able to welcome Scottish War Blinded with this exhibition is especially poignant, taking place on Armistice Day, 11th November when we remember all those who have and indeed are serving in the Armed Forces.”

Scottish War Blinded was founded in 1915 to support blinded soldiers in their rehabilitation. They were trained in a wide variety of trades such as woodwork, piano tuning, poultry farming and basket weaving. Upon completion of training, blinded soldiers were provided a means to seek new employment and live independently across Scotland with the assistance of aftercare workers.

The charity joins Action on Hearing Loss, Falkirk Council, NHS Forth Valley, RNIB Scotland and Stirling Council within the Sensory Centre.

Rebecca Barr, Scottish War Blinded’s Head of Operations and Development said:

“As Scotland remembers the men and women who have lost their lives in the service of their country, it is also important to remember the challenges faced by those who returned with life changing physical and psychological trauma.

“The exhibition follows the inspirational stories of many blinded soldiers who returned to Scotland during World War One and goes on to cover our service provision today supporting all veterans no matter if they lost their sight during or after service.

“I am delighted that Scottish War Blinded now has a permanent office at Forth Valley Sensory Centre and invite anyone in the area to get in touch if they know a veteran living with significant sight loss.“

Chemical warfare contributed towards 188,706 Allied casualties in World War One inflicting permanent blindness, respiratory problems and psychological disorders on those who survived. For many blinded soldiers returning to Scotland, life would never be the same again unable to return to previous employment and engage in public life. Scottish War Blinded was set up to help those who did come back.

For more information on Scottish War Blinded, visit www.royalblind.org/scottish-war-blinded and for information about Forth Valley Sensory Centre see www.forthvalleysensorycentre.org or search for @FVSensoryCentre on Facebook and Twitter.