10 December 2015
Source: Blind Veterans UK
A vision impaired National Service veteran from Broadway is looking forward to baking cakes and puddings for his family’s Christmas feast this year after a national military charity helped him to build his confidence in the kitchen.
Earlier this year, Graham Smith, 78, visited Blind Veterans UK’s Sheffield centre for a week of kitchen skills training. He’s been putting his new skills to good use ever since and is now planning to play a key role in his family’s Christmas dinner by making a number of sweet treats.
Graham said: “This Christmas will be really good. Luckily my wife, my son and my daughter all love to cook as well, so we’ll all be doing our bit. I’ll be making some cakes – I’m planning to make a Christmas cake – I’ll be making the pudding too.”
Veteran Graham did National Service between 1955 and 1957, where he served as part of the Royal Artillery, working as a driver for the Core Commander of the Royal Artillery, General J. W. Wainwright, in Germany. After his two years, he remained in part time National Service until 1961 and rose to the rank of Sergeant.
After leaving service, Graham joined his family business, supplying billiards and snooker tables to companies around the Yorkshire area, which is where he gets his love of snooker. Years on, Graham began to lose his sight due to age related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
He says: “Initially losing my sight was very difficult for me. It was sad to think I wouldn’t be able to drive or do things I enjoyed like golf or snooker anymore. I’m quite a positive person and wanted to be able to keep doing things so when I found about Blind Veterans UK, I got in touch!
“The support I’ve received has been brilliant. I’d wanted to try cooking so I went to the Sheffield centre to do a course where I learnt the basics and it spurred me on to do more in the kitchen. The magnifier the charity has given me not only helps me to read my correspondence, but also lets me read the recipes easily as well – that has been so helpful. I think the best bit has been the talking scales that I was given. Because I had struggled to see how much of things I was using, these scales read out the weight to me now, and it’s made such a difference.”
Graham, who is originally from Yorkshire, regularly cooks and bakes for his family, with his Yorkshire Parkin being a firm favourite among his grandchildren.
He said: “I really enjoy being in the kitchen, Blind Veterans UK really helped me get started. I’ve collected lots of recipes and my wife has helped me with more hints and tips. This Christmas will be really nice with all the family together and I’m looking forward to making a start on all the cakes I’m planning!”
Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans, like Graham, discover life beyond sight loss. The charity has three centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales and a network of welfare officers around the UK.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, call 0800 389 7979 or go to http://www.noonealone.org.uk.