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Kemnay RAF veteran celebrates 100th birthday with Scottish War Blinded

By Chris Cromar

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A ROYAL Air Force (RAF) veteran from Kemnay has celebrated his 100th birthday and celebrated with his friends from the Scottish War Blinded charity and family.

Paul Bohan from Kemnay celebrated the milestone with a party in the Acorn Centre in Inverurie last week and also went on a trip to RAF Lossiemouth in Moray with other veterans, both of which were organised by the Scottish War Blinded charity.

Born on November 24, 1919 in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, he signed up to the RAF at the age of 16 because he “wanted to be a fighter pilot”.

In total, he served for 11 years with the RAF and spend four and a half years overseas, in North Africa and the Middle East respectively.

Mr Bohan enjoyed his time in the RAF and said it was “superb training” and prepared him for future jobs, including being a TV engineer at the BBC for 20 years.

He has lived in Kemnay for the past 50 years and has two children, a daughter, who he lives with and a son in South Carolina in the United States.

His son travelled across the Atlantic for his father's family birthday celebration which took place on Sunday last week.

Veteran Paul Bohan (sitting left) celebrated his 100th birthday last week with his friends from Scottish War Blinded in Inverurie. Photograph: Chris Cromar
Veteran Paul Bohan (sitting left) celebrated his 100th birthday last week with his friends from Scottish War Blinded in Inverurie. Photograph: Chris Cromar

On turning 100, Paul said “it's a matter of luck” and “you're dealt a hand of cards and you play what you've got”.

Scottish War Blinded gives free support to former servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service.

The majority of veterans currently benefiting from Scottish War Blinded services have developed sight loss as a result of age related eye conditions, such as macular degeneration.

The charity's support is tailored according to each of the veterans’ wishes and needs and the aim is to help veterans to maintain their independence as much as possible.

Scottish War Blinded’s outreach workers are based across Scotland and provide one-to-one advice and emotional support.

They run various lunch groups and social activities across Scotland and these friendly, relaxed meet-ups provide the opportunity for veterans with sight loss to make new connections and friendships, targeting social isolation, which many of the charity’s veterans say they have experienced as a result of their sight loss.

Scottish War Blinded’s expert rehabilitation team provide tailored advice and training and can offer pieces of specialist equipment to veterans free of charge, from electronic magnifiers, lighting and Synapptic tablets and phones, to canes, talking clocks, talking watches and cooking aids.

Commenting, Mr Bohan said being part of the group allows him to “see people with the same problems and you learn from them and they learn from you”.

Outreach worker at Scottish War Blinded, Ingrid Penny said: “The support that Scottish War Blinded can give, is to put members like Paul in touch with other veterans with sight loss, offering social opportunities and also providing equipment that may help them and keep their independence.”

The charity also has two activity hubs in Scotland for members, the Hawkhead Centre in Paisley and the Linburn Centre in West Lothian.

To find out more, you can visit www.scottishwarblinded.org, or call 0800 035 6409 for more information or to refer a veteran to the charity.

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