A blind veteran from Wiltshire is set to march at the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday for the charity Blind Veterans UK.  

On Sunday 14 November, Kelly Ganfield, 41, who is from Trowbridge, will be marching at the Cenotaph as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

Ganfield will be joined by more than 30 other blind veterans on behalf of the charity Blind Veterans UK.

The national charity has been supporting vision-impaired ex-Service men and women since 1915 by providing rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to tens of thousands of blind veterans. 

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Kelly Ganfield set to march at London's Cenotaph for Remebrance Sunday. Credit: Blind Veterans UKKelly Ganfield set to march at London's Cenotaph for Remebrance Sunday. Credit: Blind Veterans UK


Who is Kelly Ganfield?

Kelly Ganfield joined the British Army in 1998 and served for almost seven years before leaving as a Corporal.

Kelly said: “All I ever wanted to do was join the Army.

"I was super fit and very competitive, so I wanted to have a career doing something active.

"The Army seemed like a perfect fit”. 

During her time in service, Kelly served in Omagh in Northern Ireland.

While serving in the Sherwood Foresters battalion in 2001, she was due to go to Iraq but she collapsed and fell ill while at work.

Kelly explained: “I was in and out of hospital for 18 months until I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid syndrome, an autoimmune disease which causes blood clots.

"This caused two strokes when I was 23 and 25 which affected my sight”. 

Kelly was medically discharged in September 2005 following her diagnosis.

She added: “I was in shock that my Army career had been cut so short.

"Before I collapsed, I played football for the Army and was physically very fit.

"I couldn’t understand how this could have happened to me”. 

READ MORE:Remembrance Day memorial events you can attend in Wiltshire in 2021

This is when Kelly found out about Blind Veterans UK and began receiving support from the charity when she was discharged.

Kelly commented: “Blind Veterans UK have saved my life. I felt so alone when I left the Army, but they gave me back my independence and a purpose for living”. 

Following the support she received from Blind Veterans UK, she decided that she want to do something to thank them so she signed up for Invictus Games on behalf of the charity.

Kelly competed in the games in both 2017 and 2018, taking home a silver medal.

During lockdown, Kelly and her family, including her wife Sarah and her daughter Bethany took part in the At Home Winter Wonderwheels challenge.

The challenge involves completing a total distance of 200km over four weeks.

Kelly's family covered the 200km distance by cycling and walking.

She added: “We wanted to do this challenge to raise money but also to give the charity recognition for everything it does and for the families like ours that it helps”. 

Throughout the pandemic, Blind Veterans UK  continued to support veterans, especially the most vulnerable with food and medication deliveries and even by being friendly voice over the phone. 

The charity still runs over 45 virtual group support sessions a week.  

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Kelly Ganfield in service. Credit: Blind Veterans UKKelly Ganfield in service. Credit: Blind Veterans UK

Remembrance Sunday commemorations 

Kelly will be marching alongside fellow blind veterans at the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday. 

She explained: “This will be my seventh year of marching at the Cenotaph.

"I am always very proud to march and remember those who can’t be with us. 

"This year I will think about all those blind veterans who took me under their wing when I first joined the charity”.   

Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB says: “This year we will hopefully be able to experience a more normal Remembrance Sunday once again and it will be fantastic to march with veterans like Kelly once again.  

  “More than 90% of the blind veterans we support are over 70 and so were most at risk from COVID-19.  

  “We have found new ways of supporting them throughout the last 18 months and it has meant that we have been able to keep them connected as well as ensuring practical support is still there for the most vulnerable.”  

You can visit the Blind Veterans UK website  to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work.