Scottish War Blinded Centenary Exhibition rekindles memories of a childhood at Newington House

Posted: 11/01/2016 | Scottish War Blinded

Robert Evers contacted Scottish War Blinded having read about his father’s work with the charity at our recent centenary exhibition at Central Library, Edinburgh. We invited Robert to share his memories of his father’s work as well as his own childhood memories at Newington House.

James Evers (pictured here visiting a Scottish War Blinded member at her home) devoted his entire working life to Scottish War Blinded who, as Robert describes, worked his way up from humble beginnings with the charity at Newington House in Edinburgh.

“He started off as a van driver for Scottish War Blinded at the age of 18. At that time he was also playing football for Hibernian a few games, mostly in the reserves. He would later play for Dumbarton, Leith Renton and Kilmarnock. In those days it was fairly common to work two jobs and football wasn’t quite the career it is today.”

Over time, James worked closer with the members at Newington House gaining a wealth of experience and understanding of supporting visually impaired veterans which led to his appointment as an After-Care Supervisor.

After-Care Supervisors were responsible for ensuring that members continued to receive a high level of support upon leaving Newington House having completed rehabilitation and vocational skills training.

Members were supported by the After-Care Department to establish their own businesses, seek employment and lead independent lives in communities across Scotland.

The work of the after-care department is continued today through Scottish War Blinded's Outreach Service which supports members in communities across Scotland.

Robert recalls making several trips with his father:

“I used to go along on member visits with my dad. The members were always very welcoming and glad to see him. His commitment to the welfare of the members under his care was greatly appreciated. I remember he would make the journey across the northern islands which, in those days, required an overnight stay. He would be away for two or three nights, but it always seemed like longer. I also remember taking the trip to Forfar where guide dogs were trained for any member who required one.”

Robert also has many happy memories of Newington House and the Scottish War Blinded members who chose to remain there employed in the workshops:

“We moved into Newington House shortly after I was born in 1955 It was a great place to grow up, we had the house but also the workshops and greenhouse to run around in. The members would recognise me by hearing my footsteps. Despite being blind, they knew everything and exactly where I was. They would frequently shout ‘Robert, get away from there, it’s dangerous’. I remember everyone having a good laugh and enjoying everyone’s company.”