A BLIND veteran is set to march at the Cenotaph in London at the weekend to represent a charity very close to his heart.

Charlie Eastwood will be taking part in the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations with more than 100 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK.

The 59-year-old from Hartlepool, said: “It’s such an honour to be marching at the Cenotaph during the centenary of the First World War. I’m lucky to have marched with Blind Veterans UK before and I know that as soon as you get to those gates in Whitehall the atmosphere is really intense, I can’t describe the feeling but it moves me to tears. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it.”

The veteran served in the Army, joining the Royal Signals in 1976 and worked as a generator mechanic in field operations. He served in Cyprus, Germany and the Caribbean.

His eyesight began to deteriorate whilst serving in the Army and in 1996 he was officially diagnosed with an inherited eye condition known as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). He was able to continue his service as an instructor of the Territorial Army, before being demobbed and completing his service in 1999.

He added: “When I left the Army I lost my purpose in life, I had a part time job but I was just existing. I had no real friends so I was home alone a lot while my wife was at work and my daughter was at school. I had no one to turn to and I was on the verge of depression.”

In 2007, after much resistance, Mr Eastwood contacted the charity Blind Veterans UK. He said: “At the time I didn’t think I needed any help but it was my wife Jacqui who insisted that I join Blind Veterans UK and she came with me to their training centre in Brighton for an introduction week.

"Within an hour I was laughing and giggling with the other veterans, for the first time in a long time I was around military people again. It’s just the way they talk, there’s this instant common ground you have.”

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 and the charity has a dedicated community team in Cleveland.

People can visit blindveterans.org.uk/victory to learn more about the charity and how they can support its vital work.