LIFE-CHANGING training and independence for Marlborough’s blind veterans has been made available thanks to a £2,000 grant from Tesco.

Blind Veterans UK applied to Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, which has been running for four years in collaboration with the charity Groundwork.

The bid was successful, enabling Marlborough’s blind veterans to enjoy many experiences and activities that they haven’t been able to do since losing their sight.

One of the beneficiaries is 95-year-old Eddie Gaines, who joined the Royal Navy in 1943 and was at Omaha Beach on D-Day. He served in Normandy until Christmas Eve 1944, transporting ammunition, equipment and men. Later in life he lost his sight to macular degeneration.

He said: “Blind Veterans UK have given me a special reader that magnifies documents to a huge size. It has allowed me to still look after my own correspondence and even get back into building models. I’ve also recently started learning how to use a tablet computer. I get quite emotional remembering the moment when I was being shown all this marvellous equipment and then being told that I was taking it home with me.”

Hayley Warmington, the charity’s Community and Events Fundraising South Senior Manager, said: “We used the funds to buy specialist equipment and provide complementary training, and this has resulted in many veterans being able to cook for themselves again, manage their own finances, take a trip to the shops, and even go on to education and employment.”

Bags of Help has provided more than £84million to over 28,000 community projects across the UK. Customers vote in-store for their preferred local project, using the blue token given to them at the checkout.

Claire De Silva, Head of Community at Tesco, said: “We’re delighted that we can help veterans like Mr Gaines, who is an inspiration to us all."