Matt's story

Matt Rhodes lost his sight when a motorbike accident gave him severe injuries.
Matt Rhodes lost his sight when a motorbike accident gave him severe injuries.

 

 

When Matt Rhodes was blinded in a motorcycle accident, Blind Veterans UK helped him to live a normal life.

Matt Rhodes was an army physical training instructor with the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. He served in Germany, Canada and the summer of '95 tour in Bosnia, until a motorbike accident gave him severe injuries. He was paralysed down the right side of his body, and was registered as blind due to brain damage. When he was first put in contact with Blind Veterans UK, Matt was struggling to adjust to his sight loss and reduced mobility.

 

How we've helped



We gave Matt a thorough assessment, looking at his needs and what he wanted to be able to do. He worked closely with one of our rehabilitation officers to develop independent living skills, like getting around safely and using a kitchen.

 

We also assigned a welfare officer to Matt to help him take advantage of the benefits and services he was entitled to. Our welfare officer is still giving Matt practical and emotional support, and telling him about training and rehabilitation possibilities with Blind Veterans UK.

 

As part of our support we helped Matt find a new house, as the flat he was living in just wasn't right. Our Estates and Welfare teams worked with an occupational therapist to adapt the house and build adaptations to help him live there safely and easily. Now aged 34, Matt lives with his wife and their four children.

 

A fundraising marathon



Matt began fundraising with a 12,000ft skydive in 2004 and then swam, abseiled, paraglided and rode a horse, all in the name of raising money for Blind Veterans UK. In 2007 he finished the London Marathon alongside his mum Hilary.

 

His toughest challenge to date was finishing the first Brighton Marathon in 2010. He raised money for Blind Veterans UK and Guide Dogs for the Blind and completed the run over two days.

 

In Matt's words

At the Brighton Marathon I was in so much pain but there was no way I was going to stop. I wanted to do it for everyone at Blind Veterans UK because they're amazing.



Blind Veterans UK has enabled me to lead a normal life. When I was introduced to them I was struggling to cope: I felt different and wasn't sure where life was going. Getting involved with Blind Veterans UK made me realise I wasn't so different - their combination of practical and emotional support gave me the confidence to try new things. As well as rehousing me, they also taught me to touch type, so I can easily keep in contact with friends via email and publicise my fundraising exploits! I also use the craft workshop at the Brighton centre twice a week, and enjoy painting and creating mosaics.



Since my accident I've never let my disability stop me from doing anything. Over the last couple of years, I have completed various sponsored events to give back to the charities - such as Blind Veterans UK - that have helped support me.



We launched the No One Alone campaign to reach out to more people like Matt. It is estimated that there are 68,000 plus blind veterans who could be eligible for our help but are unaware of it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss (including age-related sight loss) request our free support b calling 0800 389 7979.

 

Blind veteran Matt Rhodes How we help blind veterans like Matt

Matt Rhodes, born in 1974, was an Army Physical Training Instructor and served in Germany, Canada and the summer of '95 tour of Bosnia, until sustaining severe injuries as a result of an motorbike accident. He was left paralysed down the right side of his body and was registered blind due to brain damage. With support from Blind Veterans UK Matt has gone on to make some remarkable achievements including a new found passion for painting. Find out more about Matt's paintings at http://matthew-rhodes.blogspot.co.uk/

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