Michael Kelbie

I was blinded by a hand grenade over 28 years ago in Germany during my service with the Gordon Highlanders. This was a very busy and difficult time as I was in and out of hospital undergoing multiple operations, and I didn’t join Scottish War Blinded at that time. 

About 5 years ago I was approached by Mrs Meikle to ask if I would re-consider becoming a member. 

Michael Kelbie

I believe that in this country there is a number of safety nets which are supposed to catch people, which have rather large holes through which people can slip. In contrast, Scottish War Blinded’s safety net, into which I’ve fallen, has very small holes and they won’t let you slip through them. I would encourage anyone who is eligible to join because of this safety net- which tightens around you and supports you. I now know that if I need advice my outreach worker is at the end of the phone, and will help me if I’m struggling over anything in particular. 

I would compare the spirit of Scottish War Blinded’s social gatherings to the military hospitals which I attended in the past- there is a strength of camaraderie amongst members and the staff who really understand the benefits of improving well-being by bringing military men and women together. 

I was speaking to a fellow member about the Battlefields tour recently, who I thought summed up the inclusiveness of Scottish War Blinded- he said he was looking forward to being surrounded by fellow soldiers, but also to being around ‘civvies’ who understood him and could support him in dealing with his sight loss.

To me, Scottish War Blinded is not just a charity for blind ex-service people, but is an organisation of blind ex-service people- what I mean by that is, whilst it has many sighted members of staff, it is run with respect for the particular bonds that military links and a shared loss of sight can bring for ex-service people like myself. 

I’m happy to share my story to support the Guide Them campaign and to show that even if you don't think you need support at the moment, it's well worth joining Scottish War Blinded to have that peace of mind and to regain that feeling of cameraderie.' 

If you know someone like Mick who is eligible but unsure of joining us, please free phone 0800 035 6409. It doesn't matter when they served, nor how they lost their sight.  Please guide veterans of the forces to us and help them find out more about us at guidethem.org.