Blind veteran to skydive 12,000 feet for charity which ‘changed his life’

An 84-year-old blind veteran from Brighton will skydive to raise money for the military charity that has supported him since he lost his sight.

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 3:01 pm
Peter Burbery, 84, will skydive to raise money for Blind Veterans UK who have helped him to live independently and continue enjoying his hobbies, such as cycling

Peter Burbery, from Portslade, will jump out of an aeroplane at 12,000 feet accompanied by his granddaughter and son-in-law next Thursday (March 5).

“I’m not scared, but I’m certainly apprehensive,” Peter said.

“I haven’t been in an aeroplane since 1963 let alone jumped out of one so it’s definitely going to be an experience.”

He hopes to raise money for charity Blind Veterans UK which he says has had an ‘amazing impact’ on his life.

“My family have seen first-hand the amazing impact that Blind Veterans UK have had on my life, so they’re always finding excuses to try new adventures and fundraise at the same time,” he said.

“Somehow they’ve managed to rope me in for this one!”

Peter completed national service in the Army’s Royal Sussex Regiment between 1954 and 1956 and served as batman for general Sir Lashmer Gordon Whistler.

At the age of 48 Peter was diagnosed with glaucoma and macular degeneration.

He now describes his sight as “minute”; he has the ability to recognise basic shapes when they are held very close to his face.

“At first I was completely fed up. I’d been an upholsterer and a keen cyclist my whole life and suddenly that was all over,” Peter said, “I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“Luckily I found out about Blind Veterans UK through a friend, who have not only got me back to using my hands in their arts and crafts department, but also got me back on a bike doing things like 24 hour tandem challenges!

Blind Veterans UK helps vision-impaired ex-service men and women of every generation, like Peter, to rebuild their lives after sight loss.

Since 1915, the charity has provided rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to tens of thousands of blind veterans and has a dedicated Sussex community support team.

“When I first visited the Brighton rehabilitation centre I was overwhelmed at the support that was available,” Peter said.

“I was trained up on equipment like magnifiers which meant that I could use my limited sight to read the post, magazines and generally stay independent.

“All in all they’ve been nothing short of incredible and have genuinely given me a new lease of life.”

Peter and his family will skydive on March 5 at Headcorn Aerodrome, Kent, with all money raised via this JustGiving page donated to Blind Veterans UK.