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Rotarians hear of veteran's charity work in Aberdeenshire

By David Porter

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Much is said about a 'new normal' society evolving the longer this Covid-19 pandemic lasts but at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie members were made to realise once again that a 'normal' society has not gone away!

As rotarian Jim McColl explained: "In other words everything that has happened anew since March 2020 has come on top of our normal lives – our jobs, our schooling, our pastimes and pleasures, our families and relatives, some in far away places.

"Members were reminded of this at our meeting this week when our guest speaker Ingrid Penny was introduced.

"Ingrid is a support worker for the charity now known as Sight Scotland Veterans (SSV), formerly referred to as Scottish War Blinded.

"Her territory covers half of the City of Aberdeen and most of Aberdeenshire.

"With in excess of eighty 'members' in her area, some of us were probably surprised when Ingrid commented on the age range being from about 40 to over 100.

"The point being that some of the conditions develop after the service period has been completed and in that context, the length of service is calculated from the day of 'starting work'.

"The SSV support over 1200 individuals throughout Scotland.

"That service continues, regardless of the present pandemic – that's normal!

Guest speaker Ingrid Penny
Guest speaker Ingrid Penny

He continued: "Of course families do play a huge role in supporting blind relatives and those with severely impaired sight but there are many who either live alone or have few friends able to support them and that is where SSV is most valuable – organising travel , outings and group meetings which are so vital for people's well-being.

"We learned of sports groups learning to play golf and bowling.

"In other words to encourage members to socialise, a vital ingredient for living - and don't we all know it in the present circumstances.

"Comradeship Circles of about six individuals have developed – rather an attractive description of the simple act – a few chums getting together, for a blether.

"The help and assistance of SSV doesn't end there, we learned of special gadgets, special phones and even courses to enable make life easier for clients.

"We are all familiar with the visible sign of someone with impaired vision – the white stick.

"Users can become quite confident in their use after training to the extent that they can get about on their own.

"The memory that will stay with me was the tale of one individual who climbed a Munro, aided and abetted by that white cane.

He added: "What about financing and fund raising?

"This charity is over 100 years old and has been fortunate to receive legacies and gifts over the years, so much so that fund raising is not top of the priorities just yet but there is an awareness that this may change.

"Our thanks to Ingrid were expressed by Judy Whyte."

On other matters he said: ""During the business session which followed mention was made of the success of our Shoebox Scheme – sending gifts to children and young people in deprived countries in Eastern Europe at Christmas.

"Since publicising the activity, we have been overwhelmed by support from the public.

"Huge thanks to everyone.

"Finally, what was the result of the Gavel Competition, our inter club winter activity?

"The least said the better or as one veteran of the ploy described it- pure murder.

"That's just being 'normal' again, thank goodness."

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