A place on the board: Ray Hazan of Blind Veterans UK

Things changed forever for the former soldier when a parcel bomb exploded in his hands in 1973

Ray Hazan
Ray Hazan

Blind Veterans UK changed Ray Hazan's life forever. He lost his eyesight in 1973 when a parcel bomb exploded in his hands while he was serving with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Northern Ireland.

"When I woke up in hospital I was told I would be blind for the rest of my life," he says. "You think it's the end of the world." But then he was told about St Dunstan's, now known as Blind Veterans UK.

For 100 years the charity has trained and helped to rehabilitate ex-servicemen and women suffering total or partial blindness. Hazan has been part of the charity in different ways for almost four decades - first as a beneficiary, then as an employee, later as a trustee and finally as president. When he lost his eyesight, it was at the charity's Brighton centre that Hazan was trained. His first job was assistant public relations officer at the charity, then manager of its various clubs. In 1998 he was elected a trustee and became president as well in 2004.

Hazan's role as president is mainly honorary. His official function is to chair the charity's annual general meeting, but he also meets various groups and receives cheques on behalf of the organisation.

Of the 15 trustees, three are visually impaired. Talking as a beneficiary, he says: "Blind Veterans UK has done so much for us; we want to give something back. We feel totally indebted."

The biggest challenge for Hazan as a trustee is to represent the interests of thousands of beneficiaries - and the numbers are likely to increase by 800 this year. "Trying to find out the views of more than 4,000 members and trying to keep in touch with them can be quite difficult," he says.

Nevertheless, he encourages anyone considering the role of trustee to "sign on the dotted line. You're joining a whole new family."

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