Andrew Napier, from Paisley, who has been blind since birth due to retinopathy of prematurity (RP), is quite literally singing the praises of Sight Scotland Veterans at the charity’s Hawkhead Centre in Paisley.
Andrew, 29, who has a law degree and diploma, is undertaking a 9-month internship at the Hawkhead Centre. He assists with all the daily activities the centre puts on for the veterans and has recently launched both a choir group and one-to-one piano lessons.
Andrew explains: “I am really enjoying my internship and look forward to coming into work every day. All the Hawkhead staff have been so welcoming and helpful, and the veterans are just great. I help with all the activities and have also been assisting the centre with accessibility advice, providing feedback on what is done well and what could be improved. Having a vision impairment enables me to give a different perspective and hopefully it is proving beneficial for the charity.
“I have a passion for music and play the piano and sing in a local community choir in Paisley. I have recently launched a singing group at the centre and am also giving veterans one-to-one piano lessons. It is great that I am getting to combine my passion for music with my internship, I just love it. The veterans really enjoy it as well; singing and music is just so powerful to help lift spirits and make people feel good. Singing is also a good form of exercise and helps with alertness, stress reduction and self-esteem. It just makes people feel better and happier.”
Andrew adds: “I found out about the internship through word of mouth in Paisley, and I thought to myself this sounds perfect for me. So, I applied and was delighted to get it. It has helped me so much in terms of learning new skills but also with my confidence and independence. I find the whole thing just so rewarding, it really lifts my spirits. The Hawkhead Centre is such a positive place to work, it is amazing to be able to interact and help all the veterans and you can tell how much they enjoy coming along. I really cannot speak highly enough of Sight Scotland Veterans.”
Alison Gray, Deputy Centre Manager at the Hawkhead Centre, comments: “Andrew has been a real help since he started, and all the staff and veterans love him. He is such a positive person and has so many amazing skills. His piano and choir groups have been a big hit, and it is lovely to hear the music and song drifting through the centre throughout the day. He has also been helping Sight Scotland Veterans and Sight Scotland with accessibility testing. We are incredibly lucky to have him.”
Sight Scotland Veterans provides support to all veterans in Scotland who are experiencing changes to their sight. The Hawkhead Centre in Renfrewshire is an activity hub for ex-servicemen and women with sight loss. It’s a warm, welcoming place that brings veterans together. With a variety of activities and outings, the activity hub offers the means and support to adapt to life with sight loss and try new things. Many veterans who attend the centre say the things they do there and the connections they’ve made have transformed their lives.
For more information on Sight Scotland Veterans please visit www.sightscotlandveterans.org.uk or call our support line on 0800 035 6409.