Derek McDonald


Derek McDonaldI first came across Scottish War Blinded in 2012 during Armed Forces Day in Princes Street Gardens. Elayne and I were innocently wandering around the exhibits and listening to the bands. Lovely! Then it happened, the moment my life changed.  Above her tent was the sign Scottish War Blinded. She was looking at me, (sigh), she had noticed me, (sigh) she was coming over, (oh!) and she said ‘I notice you have a white cane’. (aw!).

I have to admit the benefits of membership sounded good but I didn’t think I would have time to go out there. She then played her first ace. I had already admitted to knowing a member, Mary, from Blind Bowling. She looked at me, I think there was a twinkle in her eye, and said ‘think about it, phone me next week…and if you don’t I’ll ask Mary to persuade you’.

Elayne and I thought our visit to the Linburn Centre was wonderful. The centre is a triumph, the staff were fantastic, lunch was a treat and my first impression of it being for old and infirm folk were soon dispelled when we met the proud old and young servicemen and women with a wealth of stories and always ready for a laugh.

Now, I thought, winter is coming soon. I could get the bus out there, use the gym and come home home; after all they were all so nice it would be a shame to let them down. (Note, I’m sure the reader will now see how I am being drawn into the web). I phone up and say ‘I’d like to come to the gym on Thursday’. ‘That’s fine, I’ll put you down for lunch as well’, they respond – now it’s two things. When I get there, there happens to be a lecture/talk/musician this afternoon. OK, I may as well stay! Ah! Suddenly it’s all day now.

The coup de gras came suddenly and with no warning. Sheila sidled up to me and asked if I fancied something sporty. After a mental back flip, she asked if I fancied doing some off-road driving. That was it! Game, set and match to Linburn. I never thought that I would ever do that again. Since then it’s been, do you fancy archery? What about shooting? Golf? Power-boating? White water rafting? Gliding? Have I got a silly grin on my face? Oh yes, and there’s also the social events, not to be missed! I’ve even been painting and have almost finished a bird table for my grand-daughter.

Elayne summed it up nicely a few weeks ago when were discussing holidays. She looked at me seriously and said: ‘you don’t really want to go away do you? You’re having too good a time already’. We are going away though and I dare anyone to organise any activity then.