Hadrian’s Wall walk to honour the memory of blind veteran dad

A woman from Birmingham walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall in a bid to raise awareness of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women, which began to support her dad shortly before he died. 

Janine Mussett, her partner, Paul, and their two friends, Helen and Roger set off on the 84-mile challenge on 1 June. The group took on the challenge to raise money and awareness of Blind Veterans UK a Staffordshire-based breast cancer charity which is close to their hearts. 

The four friends walked for six to seven hours a day for six days to complete the distance starting in Carlisle and finishing in Newcastle. While on the walk, two poignant dates were marked, the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the first anniversary of Janine’s dad’s death. The group raised a pint to him on his birthday.

Janine said:

“By doing this walk, and wearing a Blind Veterans UK t-shirt, I hope I’ve ensured other veterans know about the charity as the support that my dad was offered was amazing. He was really looking forward to getting involved with the charity and especially staying at one of the centres for a holiday. 

“Day four of the walk was incredibly tough with high winds and rain, the weather was relentless and I injured both feet and a knee. That night I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get out of bed the next day and carry on but I was spurred on by wanting to do it for all the blind veterans. We wore our Blind Veterans UK t-shirts with pride every day with no coats, no matter what the weather to ensure they were seen by as many people as possible.”

Janine’s dad, Joe, served in the Army with the Royal Anglian Regiment. During his service, he completed three tours of Northern Ireland but never spoke of his experience.  

Joe lost his sight due to macular degeneration in his late 60s. He was only 71 when he died and sadly the family only found out about the support available from Blind Veterans UK a few months before.  

Janine said:

“Dad was affected by his sight loss massively, he was such an independent man and losing his sight took his choices away from him, he suddenly had to rely on others. 

“He found life with sight loss lonely, people would walk past and smile at him, but he wouldn’t know they had. 

“Getting a white cane made a huge difference to Dad as people knew to say hello rather than just smile and he was no longer seen as the rude man sitting in the corner. 

“I believe that with the support of Blind Veterans UK, Dad would have regained even more independence and I want to make sure that others who are eligible don’t miss out. For me, raising awareness of the charity was my biggest goal but we’re also proud to have raised almost £600 for the charity.” 

If you would like to support her please visit her JustGiving page.

If you are inspired to take on your own challenge in June for Armed Forces Month please visit the Blind Veterans UK website for details on how you can get involved: blindveterans.org.uk/armedforcesmonth. 

Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.   

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit blindveterans.org.uk/gethelp.