Opinion Former Article

St Dunstans: Angela comes dancing for St Dunstan's Blind Heroes Week

On Wednesday 24th June, Angela Rippon, OBE, one of the best known faces and voices in British broadcasting, showed her support for St Dunstan's Blind Heroes Week.

Angela spent the day at our Ovingdean Centre, experiencing first hand what it is like to live without sight and joining a tea dance in the afternoon to celebrate and honour St Dunstaners.

In the morning, wearing a sleep shade to simulate total blindness, Angela was guided through independent living skills by St Dunstan's specialist rehabilitation and training staff. She was taught new techniques to help her carry out some every day tasks those of us with sight take for granted, such as making a cup of tea, navigating stairs and doors and using IT equipment. She also had the opportunity to try her hand at acoustic rifle shooting, first watching totally blind St Dunstaner Peter Hammond, one of the top acoustic riflemen in the country.

Angela was impressed by the level of care and expertise shown by the staff and moved by many of the St Dunstaners' stories:

"I was particularly impressed by the staff at St Dunstan's. Most importantly, they tailor their care and support to the needs of each individual St Dunstaner, regardless of their age or personal situation. It is because of this St Dunstaners confidence in their ability to face the challenges of everyday life is greatly increased.

I had a fantastic day at Ovingdean, and meeting St Dunstaners was a wonderful experience. It's amazing to see them leading such happy, independent lives, and their life stories are truly inspirational."

She gave several interviews to media to help promote St Dunstan's Week - commenting on the very great difference St Dunstan's makes to the lives of blind ex-Service men and their families and the importance of this week in honouring those who have given so much for all our sakes.

Throughout the day, Angela met inspirational St Dunstaners who, with the support of St Dunstan's, have regained their confidence to lead fulfilling, independent lives. People like Stan Grimsey, who became blind after being held as a PoW for over three years and Betty Chalmers, a former RAF Squadron Leader who began to lose her sight in later life due to a condition called Age Related Macular Degeneration.

During the afternoon, Angela danced with several St Dunstaners, showing her famous skills on the dancefloor. She also took the time to speak with many of our less mobile residents, introducing herself to ensure everyone felt welcome and included. Those assembled enjoyed cakes supplied for the Great Cake Bake in aid of St Dunstan's.

St Dunstaner Matt Rhodes summarised why people should continue to support St Dunstan's, 'When I arrived at Ovingdean I felt blind and disabled, now thanks to St Dunstan's I have my life back.'

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