Look out: Alby Dalley is thinking of taking up archery or darts – and he’s blind!
The world has opened up to Alby after 24 years of living in darkness thanks to an organisation called Blind Veterans UK.
“It was like being reborn,” says Alby, who still walks with a white stick, but has been given skills, equipment and, most important of all, the confidence to have a go at all kinds of activities closed to him for years.
Alby and his wife Dany, who live in Glenside South, West Pinchbeck, were aware of Blind Veterans UK but assumed it was something that would not be accessible to them because Alby came out of the Army years ago and wasn’t wounded in service.
However, after Boston Blind Society suggested getting in contact with the organisation, Alby discovered he is exactly the sort of person that can be helped. Now, in the centenary year for Blind Veterans UK, Dany and Alby are sharing their story to encourage others to seek help.
Life turned dark for Alby in 1990 when he was working at Geest as supervisor of the ready meals department. He went in and out of the chiller a couple of times and the blood vessels at the back of his right eye “exploded” leaving him in agony.
Unfortunately for Alby, he already had a pre-existing problem with his left eye caused by a childhood accident when he was hit by a falling brick while playing on a London bomb site. Afterwards, he saw only shadows, but it never stopped him doing anything. After three years in the Territorial Army Alby applied to join the Army, passing the eye test by making sure his good eye was tested twice. Once in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Alby proved an excellent marksman.
He served for 12 years all together, three years in Germany with Dany and their children Eddie and Donna, at which point plans to emigrate to Australia were scuppered by a change of policy.
Instead, they “emigrated” to Lincolnshire, a job at Geest for both of them... and Alby’s eventual blindness.
He says: “I thought, if this is what it’s going to be, let me die. Simple as that. You imagine putting on a blindfold and that’s it, it’s the last you are going to see. It’s not easy.”
Over many years and with early intervention from the RNIB Alby learned to accept, but it was no more than that.
That was his life until last year when he contacted Blind Veterans UK. At an introductory week at a residential centre the focus was not on what blind people cannot do, but on trying to help them do things.
Alby has been loaned equipment, such as a high tech reader that magnifies text placed on a scanner and talking software for his PC.
He has also been introduced to new activities, such as gardening, and in future might have a go at his old pastime, shooting – or archery or even darts.