BLIND Veterans will be leaving its waterfront center after 83 years.
The training and rehabilitation building at Ovingdean was built for the charity, formerly known as St Dunstan’s, in the 1930s.
When it was built, it was the first rehabilitation center specially designed for the blind.
Today, the CEO of Blind Veterans announced that the charity has made the difficult decision to leave after more than eight decades.
Major General Nick Caplin said: “Unfortunately our long standing iconic building near Brighton is becoming less and less suited to our needs.
“We have decided to make the difficult decision to vacate this building by 2024 and have started looking for new accommodation.
“This building has seen historic times over the past 83 years, including the superhuman efforts of all of our caregivers to protect and support our permanent residents throughout the pandemic.
“The population of blind veterans we support today is very different from that of the 1930s and the average age of the veterans we support today is 87 years old.
“So this is the opportunity for us to move to a new building, offering different services, which correspond much better to their needs and the needs of future blind veterans. ”
The building, which sits right next to the seafront next to the Roedean School, was inaugurated in 1938.
The work of architect Francis Lorne is considered unique in that it was specially designed for the young blind who contributed to its design and functions.
Its large grounds have designated safe lanes and are within walking distance of the seafront and the South Downs.
Each floor of the building has the same layout to help people keep their bearings.
Lesley Garven, director of the Brighton center, said: “It will be a sad day when we finally close the doors here for the last time and we will have to make sure we have a proper celebration to give it a good start.
“It’s very important for us to remember that it’s not the building that makes our Brighton center what it is, it’s our amazing people, veterans, staff and volunteers. And it is with these people that we will improve what we offer in a new building.
“This research is already underway, with Sussex as our top priority, and our goal is to find a better suited and more accessible building for our blind veterans today.
“We are allowing time to complete this move properly and we are committed to continuing to care for our permanent residents for as long as necessary. When we move, these residents will be invited to join us.
Maureen Atkinson, 96, has lived in Ovingdean for three and a half years.
She said: “Everyone took such good care of us while I was here, especially over the past year or so with the virus.
“I think the move is a great idea and it’s great that all of us residents can move together.
“It’s a great opportunity to start from scratch and I just hope I’ll still be there to enjoy the new place when we move. ”
Blind Veterans UK has had a base in Sussex since 1915, just weeks after the association was founded to support the blind in WWI.
From 1917 the association occupied a larger property in the Kemp Town district of Brighton.
The centers provide a healthy seaside environment for those in need of long-term rehabilitation and care for those who have suffered serious mental or physical health problems in addition to their loss of sight.
Although founded to support the blind in conflict, Blind Veterans UK now supports veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.
The vast majority of the 4,500 veterans currently in care have lost their sight due to age-related conditions such as macular degeneration.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-10 14:02:35