Blind veteran’s delight at meeting hero

Nick Barber (second row, second from right) with veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK and David B

Nick Barber (second row, second from right) with veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK and David Bailey (front centre). Picture: Mark Pile - Credit: Archant

A blind veteran from Beccles, with a passion for photography, had the chance to meet his hero.

Nick Barber, 56, recently met photographer David Bailey at the Brighton rehabilitation and training centre of military charity Blind Veterans UK.

Mr Barber attended the event last month as part of a photography-themed activity week run by the charity, which supports vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

As one of 14 blind veterans to attend the week of activities, Mr Barber said: “David Bailey is one of the main reasons I picked up a camera. They say it’s not always good to meet your heroes, but you can forget that - he’s photographed royalty, models and film stars, but he’s just a normal bloke.

“As soon as he started talking he interacted superbly with us all. Every photo he took has a story attached to it. I’ve always followed his career, but hearing the stories actually come out his mouth is different to reading it on paper. It really blew me away.”

During his visit Mr Bailey was given a guided tour of the centre and delivered a talk to veterans supported by the charity. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed answering questions from vision-impaired ex-Service men and women like Nick who are supported by Blind Veterans UK.”

After the talk the veterans were able to pose their own questions to Mr Bailey and some shared their own memories from their time in Service.

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Mr Barber, who served with the RAF in the Falklands, has been supported by Blind Veterans UK since 2007. Nick has Bull’s Eye Maculopathy and Retinitis Pigmentosa, sight conditions which have resulted in significant sight loss in both eyes.

Nick says: “My sight went, and I went right down. I stopped being able to drive and I had to give up my job. It was very difficult to accept. It is still a challenge, but Blind Veterans UK have been brilliant – they’ve given me so much help. More than anything they’ve given me confidence again.

“What I love about photography is that I can compete with sighted people. My work is well-received, featuring in exhibitions with Chet Valley photography club.”

When staff members at Blind Veterans UK found out about his interest in photography, they encouraged him to get involved in the charity’s photography club, and he has now attended six years in a row.