Veteran regains lost loves
Charity helps north-east man find music, art and literature
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.royalblind.org/ scottish-war-blinded
“It was a very secretive operation”
NEW LIFE: Harvey Grainger, a Royal Signals veteran and former P&J photographer, at home in Culter, Aberdeen.