Blind veteran tells of his pride after Cenotaph march

Blind veteran Andy Stowe, of Mansfield, on the march at London's Remembrance Sunday parade.
Blind veteran Andy Stowe, of Mansfield, on the march at London's Remembrance Sunday parade.

A partially blind Royal Navy veteran from Mansfield has spoken of his pride after marching at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday.

Andy Stowe, aged 61, who served during the time of the Falklands War, said: “All the emotions came into play. It was really quite a special moment.”

A chief petty officer in the Navy from 1973 to 1986, Andy worked as a mechanical engineer and then as an instructor for new recruits.

He began to lose his sight in 1994 because of glaucoma and, although he has had several operations to delay going completely blind, it has had a huge impact on his everyday life.

He took part in the London parade for the first time, along with 100 other vision-impaired veterans, and added: “It was something I have been looking forward to doing since 1986, and I have to say it was even better than I expected.

“The best part was probably the marching, although that might be because it kept me warm!

“The crowds really surprised me. One veteran I was marching with told me that the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up, and they honestly did.”

PROUD Andy took part in the march thanks to Blind Veterans UK, the charity for vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women, and a Specsavers store based in Sheffield which has been raising money for him.

He describes as “absolutely fantastic” the support he has received from the charity since he began to lose his sight, helping him to fend off acute frustration.

Andy has spent time at its rehabilitation centre and has received equipment such as a talking watch, a talking tape-measure and a talking pen for labelling food items. He has also taken a course in woodturning, which he now enjoys as a hobby.