Minister marches with veterans to back charity’s 500 Miles Challenge

Press Release | 17/05/2019

On Friday May 17th, Scotland’s Veterans Minister Graeme Dey joined veterans and local MSP George Adam at Scottish War Blinded’s Hawkhead Centre in Paisley as members of the charity took part in a collective 500 Miles Challenge, including by walking on treadmills in the Centre’s gym.  

Veterans Minister Graeme Dey on a treadmill in Hawkhead's gym alongside membersThe Minister toured the facilities at the Hawkhead Centre which was opened last year and provides activities, specialist support and independent living skills for veterans with sight loss.  The charity’s rehabilitation team work with any members who are lacking confidence in walking outdoors due to their sight condition, providing tailored route, cane and visibility training. 

The Minister met members as they clocked up steps to contribute to the charity’s 500 Miles Challenge, which was launched on May 6 and will run for six weeks. Scottish War Blinded members of all ages will step into action to collectively clock up the 1,117,500 steps, equating to a 500-mile distance, with talking pedometers and odometers provided by the charity. The aim is to support Scottish War Blinded veterans in being more active and proving sight loss is no barrier to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Scottish War Blinded member and World War Two veteran Gordon Mills, 97, came up with the idea for the 500 Miles Challenge, inspired by the famous song by The Proclaimers. He explained: “Walking is very, very valuable and I feel most veterans will be able to do it – and not only that, will enjoy it.”

Speaking after the visit Graeme Dey MSP said:

“I was very pleased to have the opportunity to visit Scottish War Blinded’s Hawkhead Centre today to see for myself the great work the organisation does in supporting ex-servicemen and women living with sight loss.

“The 500 Miles Challenge is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the fantastic work carried out by Scottish War Blinded, recognising the life changing help and support they provide both to serving and former members of the Armed Forces, as well as their families and dependents. I send my very best wishes to everyone taking part.”

Rebecca Barr, Director of Scottish War Blinded said:

“We were delighted to welcome the Minister to visit the Hawkhead Centre, and that he is joined us as members take on the 500 Miles Challenge. Many of our veterans are keen sportsmen and sportswomen and have been used to leading very active lives.  But being outside and keeping active when you have a sight condition can at first feel very daunting.

“Our rehabilitation team, outreach workers and centre staff work with individuals each day to help our veterans build up confidence, get out and about and stay involved with physical and social activities.  Gordon has laid down the gauntlet to his fellow members throughout the country to cover 500 Miles collectively, and we’re sure the Scottish War Blinded veterans will relish the challenge.”

George Adam MSP said:

“The Hawkhead Centre is an excellent activity hub providing vital support to veterans in Paisley and across the west of Scotland. It was great to join members of Scottish War Blinded today and help them towards their 500 Miles Challenge target.”