They say you find love when you least expect it, and that was certainly the case for Gordon Timmins, 79 and Valerie Timmins, 76.
Gordon met Valerie while taking a ceramics course at the Blind Veterans UK rehabilitation centre in Llandudno. After a year of dating, Gordon proposed to Valerie and the pair wed in Sandwell before friends and family in November last year.
Originally from the West Midlands, Gordon has since moved to Pwllheli to live with Valerie.
The couple met when Valerie accompanied her friend, a blind veteran, to the centre, and struck up a conversation with Gordon in the communal lounge.
Of their meeting, Gordon says, “I came into the lounge one evening and the only free seat just happened to be next to Valerie. We hit it off straight away and were roaring with laughter for the entire evening. Since then we’ve barely spent any time apart.”
Gordon was called up for National Service in 1956 and served in the Army Fire Service (AFS). He was stationed all around the UK and enjoyed the experience so much that he joined the civilian fire service when his was demobbed in 1958.
Gordon lost his sight later in life due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Sadly, he was widowed in 2014 and found himself battling sight loss alone.
“It was a really difficult time. When I lost my sight, I lost a lot of my confidence and my independence too. I honestly thought my life had ended,” says Gordon.
Fortunately Gordon was signposted to the free, lifelong support of Blind Veterans UK in 2015. Since then he has attended several activity weeks at the charity’s centre in Llandudno, received special equipment to help him adapt to his sight loss, and enjoyed the companionship of fellow blind veterans at social events organised by the charity.
“The support I’ve received has completely turned my life around. I’m confident in myself again, I’ve met so many new friends and to top it off now I’ve found Valerie. I’m over the moon,” Gordon continues.
On their wedding day Gordon and Valerie were surprised by Valerie’s brother, who travelled with his wife from Brazil for the wedding.
“Sharing the wedding with our loved ones was the cherry on the cake. The whole day was a dream come true! And now we’re busy making plans for the future, all thanks to Blind Veterans UK,” said Valerie.
As well as being supported by Blind Veterans UK, Gordon is also a volunteer for the charity and attends sight loss exhibitions and events to help raise awareness of the charity. Valerie joined him last year at Sight Village Birmingham, where the pair talked to visitors about the different ways the charity can support blind veterans through equipment, rehabilitation, activities and social events in their local community.
“The charity have supported me so well that it’s wonderful to be able to give something back. Having Valerie by my side makes it even better. We’re looking forward to Valentine’s Day, and to all our future adventures,” Gordon explains.
Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss.
Blind Veterans UK estimates that there are more than 5,300 ex-Service men and women in the West Midlands battling severe sight loss who could be eligible for the charity’s support but who do not realise it. It doesn’t matter when or how a veteran lost their sight, or when they served, Blind Veterans UK can help.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and is now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting blindveterans.org.uk.