Veteran with vision impairment re-lives career memories on David Murray Transport visit, supported by Scottish War Blinded

Press Release | 28/08/2019

An Arbroath veteran and former lorry driver with sight loss has re-lived fond memories of his career with HGVs on a specially arranged visit to one of Angus' largest haulage companies.

Charles Taylor, 67, worked across the country as a HGV driver for two decades after serving as a gunner with the Royal Artillery. 

But in the early 2000s he developed optic neuritis after a long period of illness and he had to say goodbye to his much-loved driving career. He now uses a long cane due to his poor sight.

Veteran Charles smiles out the window of a David Murray HGV

The veteran, who lives alone, is supported by charity Scottish War Blinded. Learning how much Charles misses life on the road, his outreach worker Carole Martin recently reached out to David Murray Transport in Carnoustie.

Wendy Devlin, who is Company Director of David Murray Transport and also the daughter of the company’s founder, David Murray, was more than happy to welcome Charles to their Carnoustie base to sit in a HGV once more.

 

'It was lovely to sit in a HGV again'

The veteran was over the moon to be back on familiar ground. As well as a tour, he was treated to a trip out to Arbroath and back in the passenger seat of one of the HGVs. To wrap up the day, Wendy presented him with a replica miniature truck and calendar.

Charles surrounded by David Murray Staff and Carole Martin in front of HGVs

Charles, who is originally from Brechin, said: “My sight is very poor now. Even on a really nice day all I can really see is a shadow. It’s like a fog.

 “I was last in a lorry about 14 years ago. I was very surprised but really humbled that Carole had arranged this visit for me, as I do really miss the lorries. I just liked being on the road, seeing different things and places every day. I thoroughly enjoyed being a HGV driver.

“Even if I see a lorry now or hear one, I just wish I was back on the road. It gets me down.

Charles (left) in HGV cabin with Carole, Wendy and Gary of David Murray Transport

“I was excited to come along to David Murray Transport. Years ago I even drove for David Murray for two weeks while he was in hospital to help him out. In doing that, it was the start of my career too. He was a nice man.

“We got to look around and it was lovely to sit in a HGV again. It brought back memories. I really enjoyed the ride to Arbroath and back. Thank you very much to Wendy and Carole for organising this. It was a very special day.”

 

'Organisations like Scottish War Blinded are vital'

David Murray, who very sadly died in a motorbike accident in 2011, was a veteran himself, and a “truly hardworking and kind man who would help anyone,” says his daughter, Wendy. He had played a big part in growth of the Carnoustie Gala Day.

Wendy, who runs the haulage company full time with her husband Gary, strives to continue her father’s legacy of supporting the local community as much as they can.

“Dad taught us to be kind and that when you work hard you gain your dreams,” Wendy said.

“Gary and I work hard to maintain his high standards and pride in the fleet, as well as doing all we can for the local community – for example, lending out lorries and trailers for events, supporting local football and rugby teams, or doing something like this visit for Charles. A little can mean a lot to someone.

“It was absolutely not a problem to welcome Charles and Carole. We were delighted to have them for a visit. It was just a little of our time. To be able to make someone smile is a pleasure.

“I think organisations such as Scottish War Blinded are vital, as far too many of the elderly and especially those with particular needs can become quiet and forgotten. A bit of company and reminiscing can bring a smile to the face.”

 

One-on-one support for blind and vision impaired veterans

Charles receives one-on-one support from Carole Martin, who supports Scottish War Blinded’s veterans with sight loss across Dundee and Angus and also accompanied him to David Murray Transport.

Carole said: “I’ve been supporting Charles for a number of years now, and he has often spoken of how much he misses his driving career since his sight loss took it away from him.

“I thought it would be a nice idea to try and organise a visit to a haulage company for Charles, just so that he could reconnect in a small way with his passion.

“Wendy so kindly welcomed us along to David Murray Transport, and we’re so grateful for the tour of the vehicles and the support they have shown to Charles.” 

Scottish War Blinded have also provided Charles with specialist equipment to help him maintain his independence at home despite his sight loss, including anti-glare glasses and a CCTV reader – an electronic magnifier that enables him to read newspapers and documents. 

He has also received advice and support in long cane use from Sandra Taylor – one of the charity’s expert rehabilitation experts – and attends Scottish War Blinded’s Arbroath lunch club.

Rebecca Barr, Director of Scottish War Blinded, said: “Our Outreach Workers, who are based across Scotland, are always thinking of different ways to help our veterans reclaim or revisit things that are important to them and may have been taken away by sight loss.

“Whether it’s a trip to reminisce – as Charles enjoyed with Carole and David Murray Transport – a piece of specialist equipment, or expert training with our rehabilitation team to enjoy a skill or hobby once again, we tailor our support to each individual’s needs.  

“It is a pleasure to offer these opportunities to our veterans with sight loss wherever we can.”

Scottish War Blinded gives free support to ex-servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service. 

For more information about the support offered to veterans with sight loss in Angus, and to refer a veteran to the charity, call 0800 035 6409 or get in touch online at www.scottishwarblinded.org.