Castle Douglas RAF veteran no longer flying blind

A 96 years-old RAF Bomber Command veteran from Castle Douglas has reeled back the years, overcoming the sight loss which robbed him of one of his great pleasures, that of reading.

Thomas today in his Galloway home
Thomas today in his Galloway home

When Thomas - his family has requested his surname be withheld - was flying as a navigator in World War 2, his life largely depended on the aircraft technology of the 1940s.

Now it is state-of-the-art 2019 tech which has improved the quality of life of this survivor of the branch of the British armed forces which suffered the highest casualty rate in that conflict.

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The veteran airman had been steadily losing his sight to macular degeneration for the past four years to the extent that reading was a real struggle and it was eating away at his independence.

But now with the help of an EasyRead 2 – a specialist piece of sight loss equipment given to Thomas by the charity Scottish War Blinded – the RAF veteran is overcoming these challenges.

The clever gadget is able to process and read out loud any document Thomas places underneath its scanner within seconds.

And together with a USB player he has also received from the charity, which can play audio books, the life-long avid reader is delighted to be regaining independence at home and enjoying one of his favourite pastimes again.

Thomas said: “The EasyRead 2 has been marvellous. I can now read letters. It amazes me how a machine can read something and say it out loud to you. It can be things I’ve received through the post and letters from the bank.

“The USB player amazes me too – it’s so convenient. I can take it out with me to sit in the garden and listen to my books. It’s fantastic.”

Thomas was assessed by Scottish War Blinded Rehabilitation Worker Sharon McAllister, who worked closely with him to determine which kinds of specialist equipment would suit best.

He has also seen a huge difference in life at home thanks to a number of other items, all provided free-of-charge by Scottish War Blinded, including a talking clock and a one-cup hot water dispenser.

“Sharon showed me quite a few pieces of equipment – I thought the EasyRead 2 was the best idea for me,” Thomas explained.

“When I was diagnosed with macular degeneration, the specialist told me there were three things I’d no longer be able to do: drive, read or watch television.

“I’d thought, if I could have one out of those three I would pick reading.”