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A lifeline at your fingertips

Dave Cole

A father-of-two who was robbed of an army career after losing his sight has thanked BWBF for giving him an ‘invaluable lifeline’.

Dave Cole followed his father, uncle and brother into the armed forces and saw a bright future ahead.

That was until a random flare robbed him of his sight, an army career and many of life’s pleasures.

But with characteristic courage, the father of two daughters fought back and thanks British Wireless for the Blind Fund for the ‘invaluable lifeline’ of a radio that has rekindled his joy in sport and music.

Dave joined the army in 1994 when he was 16 and learned his trade as a carpenter at 3RSME Gilbraltar Barracks, going on to serve in Ireland and Iraq.

He said: “As a sapper, good eyesight in both eyes is not just essential for firing a rifle, but also for the range of construction and demolition tasks that an engineer has to perform under combat conditions.

“Losing the sight in my right eye as a result of a flare incident whilst on peacekeeping duties in Bosnia changed my life.

“In a matter of minutes the retina at the back of my eye was damaged leading to glaucoma and progressive sight loss and ending with a medical discharge in in 2001.”

Dave comes from a family who have made their careers in the armed forces – his father, uncle and brother have all served in the army and he expected his own career to follow the same path.

After his discharge, Dave worked as a CCTV operator.

When glaucoma started to affect his left eye and he could no longer give reliable evidence in court, he took a job in a bakery preparing and delivering food to bring in the income to support his family.

By 2011 he was registered as severely sight impaired.

At 33 with two girls, then aged 11 and 12, Dave’s career prospects and daily life were contracting.

“It is hard to go from building bridges, roads and airfields and operating power tools, to not being able to see well enough to do everyday tasks,” he said.

No longer able to watch antiques programmes on the television he started to lose interest in watching sport as well.

In 2012, Wiltshire Blind Association told him about BWBF and the specially adapted radio and audio sets which it could provide on free loan for those on low incomes.

He said: “Although I miss army life, I get to go away each year to a naval base where I am able do a range of physical activities and challenges.

“Now that I have a BWBF radio, I have it on every day.

“I always listen to the news each morning to catch up with world events and conflicts and Heart Wiltshire keeps me up to date with what is going on in my local area.

“The set is so easy to use; I have all the pre-set station buttons tuned in and can see enough to use the zoom function, which is really useful.

“As an active teenager I used to play rugby for my county, football for the town and basketball for my school.

“Now I love listening to football on Talk Sport at the weekends.

“The CD function on the set is great too, for playing my ‘Now’ chart music CDs.

“My radio is invaluable; a real lifeline, it is now part of my daily life and has revived my interest in following sport.

Thank you BWBF.”

To help bring the world back into the lives of people like Dave, please make a donation today to British Wireless for the Blind Fund by clicking here.