Blind Veterans UK to leave Ovingdean home

Posted On 10 Jun 2021 at 1:02 pm

Blind Veterans UK’s centre in Ovingdean


Blind Veterans UK have announced that they are leaving their training and rehabilitation centre in Ovingdean and moving to a new building.

Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB says: “Unfortunately our long-serving building near Brighton is now becoming less and less suitable for our purposes.

“We have decided to take the difficult decision to leave this building by 2024 and begun the search for a new home.

“This building has seen some historic periods over the last 83 years, not least the super-human efforts of all our care staff in protecting and supporting our permanent residents there throughout the pandemic.

“The blind veteran population we support today is very different to that of the 1930s and the average age of the veterans we support now is 87.

“So, this is an opportunity for us to move to a new building, offering different services, that far better suits their needs and the needs of future blind veterans.”

The building, located just off the seafront next to Roedean School, was first opened in 1938. The work of architect Francis Lorne, it is believed to be unique in being purpose-built for younger blind people who themselves had input into its design and functions.

Lesley Garven, Brighton Centre Manager, says: “It will be a sad day when we finally close the doors here for the last time and we will have to make sure we have an appropriate celebration to give it a proper send off.

“It is very important for us to remember that it is not the building that makes our Brighton Centre what it is; it is our amazing people, our veterans, staff, and volunteers. And it is with these people that we will improve what we offer in a new building.

“This search is already underway, with Sussex as our top priority, and our goal is to find a building that is better suited and more accessible for our blind veterans today.

“We are allowing time to do this move properly and are committed to continuing our care of our permanent residents for as long as is required. When we move, those residents will be invited to join us.”

Maureen Atkinson, 96, has been a resident in Ovingdean for three and a half years. She says: “Everyone has taken such good care of us in my time here, especially over the last year or so with the virus.

“I think the move is a very good idea and it’s lovely that all us residents will be able to move together.

“This is a great opportunity to start afresh and I just hope I’ll still be here to enjoy the new place when we do move!”

Blind Veterans UK has had a base in Sussex since 1915, just weeks after the charity was founded to support those blinded in the First World War.

From 1917, the charity occupied a larger property in the Kemp Town area of Brighton. In addition to providing training and social activities, the centres in the county and elsewhere have variously served to provide holidays, a healthy seaside environment for those needing longer-term rehabilitation, and care for those who sadly have suffered with severe mental or physical health problems additional to their loss of sight.

Although initially founded to support those blinded in conflict, Blind Veterans UK now supports veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight. The vast majority of the 4,500 veterans currently supported have lost their sight due to age-related conditions such as macular degeneration.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    It was a mistake to do away with the name St. Dunstan’s. Everybody knew what it was.

    And, of course, there is the story of Noel Coward being asked by one of Laurence Olivier’s children on the Brighton seafront why one dog was mounted behind another. To which Coward replied, “well, the dog in front is blind and the other one is kindly pushing it so St. Dusntan’s.”

  2. Brian Cooper Reply

    will be turned into expensive apartments

    • Geoffrey Bosworth Reply

      I Can never understand why such wasted money will be put on building a new home for the veterans. Surly the building can still be used for the blind. Implementing how many parts of a building can be built into two segments. Keeping all the veterans where they are without uprooting them. And using the other segment for non-veteran blind people who born blind or blind through accidents. Blind through eye deceases. This would be the first of its kind as blind don’t have a unique chance of living on the same grounds but separate This will benefit all sides in being totally blind. Surely we must move with the times and yes we have the greatest respect but such a building can be put right with common sense. Has history states with the royalty Queen Victoria (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) is Great Britain’s second longest-reigning monarch after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. RNIB PATRON STATE. The history book was made also RNIB – 150 years of history 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of RNIB. Since then, we’ve made a huge impact across all areas of … becomes our Patron. 1953 Our name officially changes to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB… Surely this can not be ignored with the history of our Monarch.

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