Coatbridge veteran Agnes Houston MBE to carry wreath for Scottish War Blinded in Cenotaph March Past

Press Release | 01/11/2019

A Coatbridge veteran with sight loss will proudly act as wreath bearer for charity Scottish War Blinded in the Cenotaph March Past in London on Remembrance Sunday.

Agnes Houston MBE, 70, will form part of a 20-strong group of veterans representing the charity in the parade on November 10. All have a visual impairment and are supported by Scottish War Blinded.

Agnes was diagnosed with dementia when she was 57 years old. She has neurological sight loss as a result of dementia.

She has been attending Scottish War Blinded’s activity hub in Paisley, the Hawkhead Centre, for a year, and says it has been “transforming”.

Agnes Houston  MBEsits smiling

Scottish War Blinded marched in the Cenotaph parade for the very first time last year, and when the opportunity arose again this year Agnes jumped at the chance to take part. This will be the first time she has marched in the March Past.

Agnes, who served with the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) in the late 1960s, said: “I feel privileged to be asked to carry the wreath for Scottish War Blinded. I wanted to get involved to support what the march stands for, so that the youth can see how important it is to remember and learn from the past.

“It’s really exciting. What really makes me excited about it is the camaraderie of Scottish War Blinded. We’re in it together. And how they are supporting me with my dementia to be a part of it. Scottish War Blinded have embraced me for being Agnes.”

Agnes says the support she receives from Scottish War Blinded has been a huge boost to her confidence, empowering her to reclaim everyday skills that had been made difficult as a result of her sight loss.   

The dementia campaigner said: “My sight loss is neurological due to my dementia. It can happen to people who have had a stroke, too. It’s not a rare condition, it’s just something that’s not really talked about when people discuss dementia. It’s not highlighted enough.

“Attending the Hawkhead Centre has been transforming. It’s given me confidence. I’ve been getting rehabilitation from Katrina Campbell, the centre’s Rehabilitation Officer, so that I’m not afraid to use my long cane. I’ve been re-empowered to use equipment in the kitchen and to travel again through the charity’s training and support. The centre’s one of the best things that’s happened to me. My daughter says she has noticed a huge difference in my confidence.”

The Scottish War Blinded veterans group will be accompanied and guided throughout their trip and on the parade by Scottish War Blinded staff.

Hawkhead Centre Manager, Gillian McDonald, has coordinated the trip for the veterans. She said: “We feel humbled to accompany our veterans to the Cenotaph Parade for the second time after such an incredible and emotional experience at last year’s centenary march.

“This year we are pleased to be able to take an even larger group and give more of our veterans the opportunity to take part in this very important event. They are all inspiring individuals and have such determination to overcome the challenges of sight loss to take part in the parade.

“It is such an important occasion for everyone at Scottish War Blinded, close to all of our hearts. It is an honour to support this group as they represent our charity on Sunday on behalf of all the veterans with sight loss we support across Scotland.”

Scottish War Blinded gives free support to former servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service. Visit www.scottishwarblinded.org or call 0800 035 6409 to refer a veteran to the charity.