Brave Hartlepool army veteran's Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph date

A blind army veteran from Hartlepool is set to proudly take his place at the Cenotaph in London to mark Remembrance Sunday.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 6:55 pm

Charlie Eastwood, 62, will be marching at the Cenotaph as part of the national commemorations with more than 30 other blind military veterans supported by national charity Blind Veterans UK.

 Charlie joined the Royal Corps of Signals in 1976 as a generator mechanic and spent most of service living in either the UK or Germany, except for a spending a year working with the United Nations in Cyprus.

He left the Army in 1999 and lost his sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that changes how the retina responds to light, and began getting support from Blind Veterans UK in 2007.

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Hartlepool forces veteran Charlie Eastwood.

He said: “After the military, I was quite isolated. I got a job in a call centre, but there was no socialising.

"But once I joined Blind Veterans UK, it opened up a whole new world for me.

"I thought I could handle my sight loss myself, but a week at the charity’s rehabilitation and training centre in Brighton changed my life completely.”

He added:  “After that, I did rock climbing, abseiling and skiing. It brought me back to how I was in the military, having a laugh, changing my life for the better.

Last year's Cenotaph ceremony under COVID restrictions

“I will be marching at the Cenotaph this year after the pandemic caused the event to be cancelled last year.

"The comradeship there is unbelievable. It’s such a solemn day. However, you meet people that you’ve not seen in years.

"Remembrance is hard to put into words, you think of all those people who have given so much for me to do what I am able to do today. It’s a day to reflect and look back on your own personal memories.”

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

Chief executive, Major General Nick Caplin, said: “This year we will hopefully be able to experience a more normal Remembrance Sunday and it will be fantastic to march with veterans like Charlie once again.”

To learn more about the charity, go to www.blindveterans.org.uk.

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