Vet­eran re­gains lost loves

Char­ity helps north-east man find mu­sic, art and lit­er­a­ture

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY KIRSTEN ROBERT­SON

An Aberdeen man has re­gained his love for mu­sic, art and lit­er­a­ture as a re­sult of his work with the char­ity Scot­tish War Blinded.

Har­vey Grainger, 83, of Cul­ter, was em­ployed at the Press and Jour­nal as a pho­tog­ra­pher be­fore he was con­scripted into the Army. He served in the Royal Sig­nals be­tween 1954 and 1956, work­ing at a Bri­tish in­ter­cep­tion sta­tion in Ger­many.

He was based at a static lis­ten­ing post at Lan­geleben to in­ter­cept and an­a­lyse the ra­dio traf­fic of the Eastern Bloc and mon­i­tor the move­ments of the War­saw Pact mil­i­tary forces. The lo­ca­tion was just a few miles from the Iron Cur­tain which sep­a­rated west­ern Europe and the So­viet-dom­i­nated east.

Mr Grainger said: “It was a very se­cre­tive op­er­a­tion – we couldn’t tell our fam­ily what we were do­ing – but also a lot of fun. When I was first con­scripted, the se­lec­tion of­fi­cer asked about my hob­bies.

“As a young child, I had been fas­ci­nated by a blind neigh­bour who worked with ra­dios.

“I would watch, and find it re­ally en­tranc­ing. He taught me some Morse code and I ended up go­ing to the Aberdeen Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club. So when I said I liked ra­dio work, I was sent to Ger­many as part of the Royal Sig­nals.”

Af­ter re­turn­ing from Ger­many, Mr Grainger con­tin­ued to work at the Press and Jour­nal, mov­ing to its In­ver­ness of­fice.

It was here he met his wife, Moira, a for­mer social worker, and the cou­ple went on to have four chil­dren.

He went on to work for other me­dia com­pa­nies, such as STV, the Scots­man and the Highland News Group, where he be­came editor. It was decades later his op­ti­cian dis­cov­ered some­thing was wrong with Mr Grainger’s eyes – and he was di­ag­nosed with mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. He stopped driv­ing a few years af­ter, and found he could no longer recog­nise peo­ple, read mu­sic or nov­els or do wa­ter­colour­ing – one of his favourite hob­bies.

He was then in­tro­duced to Mar­garet For­est, a lo­cal out­reach worker for the Scot­tish War Blinded, and Mr Grainger says join­ing the char­ity has been “won­der­ful”.

The char­ity has given him ac­cess to equip­ment to help him with day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing de­vices such as the OrCam which “reads” them back to Mr Grainger.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing vis­its by out­reach work­ers, the char­ity also pro­vides a num­ber of classes, out­ings and ac­tiv­i­ties.

He said: “Scot­tish War Blinded have great men­tors. It’s ab­so­lutely won­der­ful and I have had the chance to re­gain so many things I didn’t re­alise I’d be able to do again.

“There will be thou­sands of peo­ple who did na­tional ser­vice and now are in the same sit­u­a­tion as me, but don’t re­alise that Scot­tish War Blinded is avail­able.

“As long as you are a vet­eran, they’re there to help.”

To find out about Scot­tish War Blinded, go to www.roy­al­ scot­tish-war-blinded

“It was a very se­cre­tive op­er­a­tion”

Pho­to­graph by Jim Irvine

NEW LIFE: Har­vey Grainger, a Royal Sig­nals vet­eran and for­mer P&J pho­tog­ra­pher, at home in Cul­ter, Aberdeen.

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