MSP Russell Findlay visited the Hawkhead Centre in Paisley where he met military veterans affected by sight loss.

The Scottish Conservative politician toured the modern centre’s extensive facilities which is run by the charity Sight Scotland Veterans.

The visit took place on Monday, 13th June ahead of Armed Forces Week which begins on Monday 20th June and culminates with Armed Forces Day on 25th June.

Around 1,200 former military personnel with significant sight loss in Scotland receive assistance from Sight Scotland Veterans, sister charity of Sight Scotland.

On any one day their Hawkhead Centre in Paisley supports up to 40 ex-military personnel with rehabilitation, exercise and socialising. They can also learn skills such as IT, art, gardening, cooking and woodwork and take part in activities including pool, shooting and bowls.

Centre manager Alison Gray explained the importance of providing sight loss veterans the skills and confidence to live as independently as possible. The centre also supports families affected by a relative’s sight loss.

Photo: Russell Findlay meets Eddie Shepherd who attends the activity centre
Photo Credit: Office of Russell Findlay MSP

Russell Findlay MSP said: “I was struck by the amazing warmth and good humour as soon as I walked through the doors of the Hawkhead Centre. Alison and her colleagues are clearly passionate about making a difference and helping those veterans cursed by sight loss.

“The range of activities on offer is phenomenal and the veterans who I had the privilege of meeting were so enthusiastic about the difference it makes to their lives.

“At one point I almost caused a bit of a rammy between the army and navy veterans but the staff told me that their friendly rivalry is a regular occurrence, which was a relief.

“Armed Forces Week and Day give us the chance to pay tribute to veterans who have given service to our country, protecting UK interests at home and abroad.

“It was humbling to meet so many who don’t seek praise or recognition, but are determined to tackle the challenges they face head on in a no-nonsense military way.

“Sight Scotland Veterans are doing great work that is making a big impact on the lives of many heroic ex-servicemen and women.”

Gillian McDonald, Head of Wellbeing at Sight Scotland Veterans said: “It was fantastic to welcome Russell Findlay MSP to the Hawkhead Centre and show him around our wonderful hub which is now full of activity again after the pandemic.

“The veterans we support are delighted to be back in taking part in activities which support their independence and provide that much needed social connection.

“We’re grateful to Russell for taking the time to have a chat with the veterans we support to hear their concerns and why the centres likes ours are a lifeline to many veterans living with sight loss.”

Main photo (top of page): (left to right) Davina Shiell, Alison Gray – Centre manager of Sight Scotland Veterans Hawkhead Centre, Russell Findlay MSP, Gillian McDonald – Head of Wellbeing at Sight Scotland Veterans
Photo Credit: Office of Russell Findlay MSP