Blind veteran to join Queen's 90th birthday celebrations

Ninety-year-old Dennis Taylor is looking forward to the birthday event.
Ninety-year-old Dennis Taylor is looking forward to the birthday event.
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A Royal Navy veteran who has lost his sight has been invited to a birthday party for the Queen as he represents the charity which has helped him.

Dennis Taylor, who is also 90, has been asked to attend the Patron’s Lunch to mark the monarch's milestone.

The event will be taking place on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace on Sunday, June 12, and is being held to recognise the more than 600 organisations that hold The Queen’s patronage.

Dennis, who lives in Tunstall, has been invited to represent Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, which has had The Queen as its Patron throughout her reign.

Dennis joined the Royal Navy in 1942 and, after training at HMS Collingwood, he served with Motor Torpedo Boats on a motor launch.

Discharged as a Leading Telegraphist in 1946 he then went on to qualify and work as a music teacher.

He said: “I entered the Navy at 17 as a boy telegraphist and ended up serving for three years in Mombasa as well as spending time in South Africa.”

Dennis suffers from age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of sight loss in older people.

He began to lose his sight 10 years ago.

He says “I visited my optician who asked if I was still driving.

"I told him that I was and he said that I should really think about stopping.

"My sight has deteriorated ever since.

"The worst thing about losing my sight is that, although I can still play the piano by ear, I can’t conduct any more.”

Dennis was referred to Blind Veterans UK by the Sunderland Eye Infirmary last year and he started to receive free and comprehensive support from the charity straight away.

He says: “I didn’t know that I was eligible for help from Blind Veterans UK and I’m so pleased that they put me in touch.

“I’d lost my confidence through losing my sight but visiting the charity’s training centre in Sheffield for an introduction week changed all that.

"Realising you can still do things helps to bring that confidence back.

“Blind Veterans UK has given me so much useful equipment that I use every day.

"I’ve recently received a huge magnifier that allows me to still read my newspapers and letters and I use a smaller version to allow me to keep composing.”

Dennis and his daughter Susan are now looking forward to celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday together with other veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK.

The Mall in St James’s Park will be transformed for its largest ever street party to celebrate the Queen’s patronage of more than 600 charities and organisations.

Dennis added: “Both of us are really looking forward to it.

"I am hugely proud to part of a charity that has Her Majesty as its patron and honoured to have been asked to represent them.”

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War.

But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning the Second World War to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.

Anyone who would like to find out more can call 0800 389 7979 or visit noonealone.org.uk.