Maria was just 18 when she joined the Women’s Royal Army as a Private. Over the years, she moved up the ranks to become a Corporal, before leaving the corps for the Territorial Army in 1993 and becoming a nurse at her local hospital.
It was while working as a nurse that Maria was diagnosed with the hereditary sight loss condition Leber’s optic neuropathy. Within a year of diagnosis, she was registered blind, an experience that Maria found utterly devastating.
Fortunately, one of Maria’s friends signposted her to the free, lifelong support of Blind Veterans UK in 2004. Since joining the charity Maria has taken IT training, run a marathon and thrown herself into activities from wing-walking to white water rafting.
“I’m so grateful to Blind Veterans UK. Their support has been life-changing”
Maria driving a truck whilst in the Armed Forces
Maria says: “I really do feel like I have my independence back. I’m so grateful to Blind Veterans UK. Their support has been life-changing, and my happiness and independence is down to them and the help they’ve given me over the past 13 years. I always say they saved my life!”
Now Maria is on a mission to reach other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women and help others in her role as an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) based at the St Helen’s hospital.
Maria was recently recognised by the sight loss sector when she won the 2017 Eyecan Awards run by Galloways. The awards were created to celebrate what can be achieved by people of all ages when they are given the right opportunities, encouragement and support.
Get in touch
If you are a veteran and are in need of support, a range of help and information is available from all our Veterans’ Gateway referral partners.
Call 0808 802 1212 or text 81212