Blind veteran basks in the afterglow of Cenotaph service
- Credit: Archant
Eric Cook is basking in the afterglow of leading 100 other war heroes in the poignant Remembrance Service and parade at the Cenotaph, in London.
The 98-year-old blind veteran, a resident at Cornwallis Court, in Bury St Edmunds, said it was a occasion which he will never forget and was proud and privileged to take part in the event which marked 100 years since the end of the First World War.
He was joined by his grandson Julian Cook, Warrant Officer Second Class, who is bandmaster with the Royal Marines Plymouth Band, based at HMS Raleigh, in Torpoint, Cornwall.
He said: “It was fantastic. An absolutely brilliant day and one I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“Being with so many comrades was a honour and I did have a tear in my eye during the two minute’s silence remembering all those mates I lost during the Second World War.
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“Being with Julian was also extra special for me ... it helped to make my day and to have a close family member with me as well was so memorable.
“The weather turned out to be fine and I was able to have a chat with a couple of guardsmen ahead of the parade.”
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Mr Cook lost his sight due to age-related macular degeneration and has been supported by Blind Veterans UK since 2011.
He enjoys meeting other veterans in the area through lunch clubs and has visited the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton on several occasions.
He also has a specially trained Rehabilitation Officer for Visual Impairment (ROVI) who visits him at the care home, in Hospital Road.
A former resident in Felixstowe prior to moving to Bury just over two years ago Mr Cook was active with his local Royal Artillery Association holding a number of posts including treasurer and standard bearer.
He joined the Territorial Army in May 1939 and was called up to the regular army in September of that year. He joined the Royal Artillery and served with 231 Battery, 67th Medium Suffolk Regiment and was deployed to the Middle East via South Africa and Aden.
He later followed the fighting to North Africa, surviving the war and eventually being discharged as a lance corporal in 1946.
After the war, Mr Cook returned to Suffolk where he entered the building trade.
Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, said: “Remembrance Sunday is a very poignant time for our blind veterans as we reflect on the sacrifice and service of all members of the Armed Forces.
“Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 in response to the more than 3,000 veterans who were blinded as a result of the First World War.
“Today we support more blind veterans than ever before in our history, but we know there are many more who still need our help to rebuild their lives following their sight loss.”