Brighton charity's president honoured for work with blind people

Posted On 31 Dec 2011 at 3:58 am

A long-serving member of staff at a Brighton home for blind ex-servicemen and women has been made an OBE in the New Year Honours List.

Ray Hazan, 66, who is blind himself, is the president of St Dunstan’s, the charity with a home in Ovingdean.

He has been made an OBE for services to blind ex-servicemen and women.

Mr Hazan was blinded by a parcel bomb in Northern Ireland in 1973 and also lost his right hand. A colleague died in the blast.

Since then Mr Hazan has inspired hundreds of others who have lost their sight, having served on the staff of St Dunstan’s since 1977.

He was put in touch with St Dunstan’s soon after losing his sight and described it as the beginning of an inspirational journey.

Ray Hazan

He said: “When I lost my sight, I felt helpless. I was unable to do many of the everyday things I’d taken for granted with sight.

“I was visited by a member of the St Dunstan’s team, who gave me a tactile watch and taught me to tell the time through touch.

“It was this practical support which for the first time made me realise I could regain independence – it was something to live for.

“I still remember my first day at St Dunstan’s.

“I heard the chatter and laughter of other St Dunstaners, the positive attitude of those I met made me realise that blindness was not so bad and that I could go on to lead a fulfilling life just as they had.

“I went through an intensive rehabilitation programme which meant St Dunstan’s specialist staff worked with me to set goals based on what I wanted to achieve.

“The environment of emotional support and encouragement helped me to progress quickly and each day I learned a new skill or technique, helping me to become more independent.

“With the help of St Dunstan’s, I learned to touch type and was able to fulfill my goal to return to work and support my family.”

A BBC TV documentary in 1974 recorded Mr Hazan’s progress during his rehabilitation. 

He joined the staff of St Dunstan’s in 1977, working first in public relations and then the welfare team for the organisation.

He went on to be elected as a member of St Dunstan’s Council in October 1998 and president of St Dunstan’s in October 2004.

He is also St Dunstan’s services manager and editor of the Review, a monthly publication for St Dunstaners (beneficiaries).

As president, Mr Hazan regularly gives talks to new St Dunstaners still coming to terms with blindness.

According to the charity: “Through this and one-to-one contact with many St Dunstaners he is able to offer the support and camaraderie that he so valued when first a St Dunstaner.

“Although he would not admit it himself, many St Dunstaners look to him as an example of what can be achieved and he is an inspiration to them.”

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