The UK: politics, impossibilities … and more Shakespeare

Trafalgar Square, London

Trafalgar Square, London

A week ago the United Kingdom was full of hope and politics. Now, after the general election result, the politics goes on but there’s one big question: how do we get out of this?

We knew there would be a muddle, but I don’t think we ever imagined it would be quite so complicated.

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ST DUNSTAN’S IS GONE – BLIND VETERANS UK IS HERE

Changing names is never easy.  St Dunstan’s has had to move very carefully.  Nearly a century old and trusted by the blind it shed its name in February to become Blind Veterans UK.

The charity was set up in 1914 by the founder and owner of the Daily Express, Arthur Pearson, who had lost his own sight through glaucoma.  He wanted to establish a rehabilitation and training centre for the soldiers who had lost their sight in the First World War.

The American banker Otto Kahn lent his house, St Dunstan’s Lodge in London, to the charity.  By the end of 1918 the charity had helped over 1,500 soldiers, or St Dunstaners as they came to be known.

In 1938 the centre at Ovingdean, near Brighton, was opened.  It was intended originally to be a convalescent and holiday home for St Dunstaners.  This centre is still there.  It sits alone on the edge of the village in an unapologetic building whose front facade is like the side of a great ship streaming footpaths down towards the shore.

In 1940, just as the charity extended its services to those blinded while serving in the auxiliary services, women’s services, munitions factories, the police, the fire services and civil defence,  the war forced it to evacuate its residents from  Brighton to Shropshire.

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