A BLIND veteran from Northwich is set to march at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday. 

Jon Westerby will be marching at the Cenotaph for the first time, with more than 30 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.  

The 60-year-old joined the Yorkshire Volunteers regiment in the British Army in 1982 and was due to go forward into a regular regiment until he discovered that he had sight problems during the night exercises.

He said: "I was hoping to continue a career within the Army however I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in both eyes.

"I can’t see anybody now, I only have about 2 per cent vision."

Following the diagnosis, Jon was discharged in 1984 and attained the rank of private soldier. After the Army, Jon started a career in IT working in schools and colleges in both the UK and New Zealand.

Fortunately, Jon found out about Blind Veterans UK and started receiving support from the charity in 2018.

He added: "I found out about Blind Veterans UK when someone from the charity did a talk at a vision support meeting that I attended.

"They have done so much for me and I’m grateful for all their support."

Northwich Guardian: Jon Westerby was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in both eyes

Jon Westerby was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in both eyes

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Jon attended many activity weeks and courses that the charity organised.

He said: "Thanks to the charity I’ve been involved with everything from skiing weeks to artwork courses.

"I never thought that I’d be able to do all these things when I first lost my sight.

"In 2019, I spent a quarter of my year doing some kind of activity with Blind Veterans UK.

"It’s an honour to march with all the other blind veterans.

"I’ve marched at the war memorial in Northwich before, but this will be my first time going to the Cenotaph in London.

"I would have loved to have gone last year but sadly we couldn’t because of the pandemic.

"When I’m marching, I will be thinking about my grandfather who was in the same regiment as me in WWI."

Blind Veterans UK was founded more than 100 years ago to support those blinded in the First World War.

Now, the charity supports veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight. 

Throughout the pandemic the charity has supported veterans, particularly those who are most vulnerable; whether they need food delivered, medication from their pharmacy or a friendly voice over the phone. Blind Veterans UK still runs over 45 virtual group support sessions a week. 

Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB said: "This year we will hopefully be able to experience a more normal Remembrance Sunday once again and it will be fantastic to march with veterans like Jon for the first time. 

"More than 90 per cent of the blind veterans we support are over 70 and so were most at risk from Covid-19. 

"We have found new ways of supporting them throughout the last 18 months and it has meant that we have been able to keep them connected as well as ensuring practical support is still there for the most vulnerable."