A time to remember
War Blinded hold service
A poignant Remembrance service was held at the Scottish War Blinded’s Hawkhead Centre yesterday.
The Paisley event took place ahead of Remembrance Sunday when a group from the centre will march past the cenotaph, in London, to honour the dead of two world wars and other conflicts.
The ser vice was conducted by Rev Robert Craig and the standard of the Scottish War Blinded was piped in.
A laying of wreaths followed at a statue of a First World War soldier, which was sculpted by those who attend the Hawkhead Centre
The famous lines from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen – “They shall grown not old/As we that are left grow old” – was read by ex-Sergeant Major William Montgomerie, 62, who attends the centre.
William suffers from glaucoma is supported by the organisation.
He explained: “I started off with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Aberdeen at the age of 15-and-a-half and I ended up with 35 years service between the regular Army and the Territorial Army.
“I was part of the British Army in the Rhine in Germany, and I served in Canada and America.
“I did about four tours in Northern Ireland in the 70s.”
William started at the centre on the first day it opened one year ago.
He added: “It ’ s a fantastic place to come along to.
“You’re amongst friends and comrades and the staff are excellent at their jobs.
“It’s like returning to the forces family even though it’s only for a day sometimes.
“It has excellent facilities and the staff have all been handpicked. It’s an excellent place to come to.”
William said Remembrance Day is a very important time of year at the centre.
“A lot of people have visual problems and they can’t always make it along to local memorials without assistance. But here they’re brought in and assisted.
“In most cases it gets them out the house as well.
“It’s very important to remember the fallen in war.
“All of the fallen in war and all of the civilians that were involved in the casualty lists as well.
“And with the 100th year commemoration coming up we should be really thankful for those that brought us through the First World War, both men and women and the civilian population.”
David Martin, 35, was with The Black Watch for a number of years and served in Afghanistan.
He suffered sight loss and a brain injury in a car accident and has had huge support from Scottish War Blinded, which includes taking part in art classes where the statue of the First World War soldier was made.
David told us: “I helped build that and I do cookery classes too. It’s fantastic stuff. “I helps me, big time. “I come here on Thursdays and Fridays.
“I love this place. It’s the highlight of my week.”
David, who will be one of the contingent who will march in London on Sunday, was deeply impressed by the Remembrance service and added: “It was fantastic. It was a lovely service.
“I think it’s very important to remember all the living and those in the forces who never made it home.
“It’s important to have remembrance. It’s just important that everyone is remembered.”
Sally Ross is director of the Hawkhead Centre, which is a state-of-the-art facility that supports all veterans living with sight loss.
She said: “We run wood workshops, art, we’ve got a gym, we run quizzes, archery sessions, strength and balance, all sorts of things.
“There’s a great push on at the moment to alleviate isolation, especially amongst veterans.
“So, although they are taking part in these activities, probably what is even more important is that they’re developing a social network and they’re making friends.
“Sometimes these guys are not getting out of their houses at all, except to come here once a week.”
Remembrance means a lot to all at the Hawkhead Centre, Ms Ross added.
“And this year Scottish War Blinded is very proud to be represented at the Remembrance service in London. That’s a big moment,
“It ’ s the first time Scottish War Blinded have done that,” she added.
Salute Those taking part fell quiet as a mark of respect
Moving words Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen was read out at the memorial