A BLIND Royal Navy veteran spent Christmas with fellow comrades instead of being alone – thanks to an armed forces charity.

Arthur Chambers, from Clacton, was invited to Blind Veterans UK’s centre in Brighton over the festive period with other blind ex-service men and women.

Arthur, 93, enlisted in the Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve in 1942.

He worked as a minesweeper in Portsmouth, Gibraltar, Sicily, Italy, Malta and north Africa.

“In the Navy I wasn’t on a big ship, so I was mostly working and had almost no time off for fun,” said Arthur.

“We woke up in the morning and started to work. Then we had a break for lunch, worked again and suddenly it was bed time.

“It was a really hard routine. Bigger ships were better – people had more time off.”

He was discharged after the war in 1946 and returned to his previous job at the London docks where he worked for more than 20 years.

Arthur, of Marine Parade West, lost his sight in 2009 after waking up one morning and realising he couldn’t see. He was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and told he would go blind.

“Before I went to sleep I would always read about three or four pages of a book,” said Arthur.

“But that morning, when I woke up, I couldn’t see at all. It was horrible but I tried to just carry on as normal.

“My eyes are so bad now that the doctors don’t want to see me anymore. There’s nothing they can do.”

Arthur started getting support from Blind Veterans UK in 2014.

He spent a week with the charity where he was shown equipment to help him cope with his blindness and stay independent.

“I had training in a specially-adapted kitchen where the instructors showed me how I could cook and use equipment safely,” he said.

“I was also given a white cane and learned how to use it properly.”

Each year the charity invites people like Arthur to spend Christmas week at its centres. He was joined by neighbour and carer Irene Austin.

The charity says there are an estimated 1,400 veterans in Essex who are now battling blindness who could qualify for support.

For more information call 0800 389 7979 or visit blindveterans.org.uk.