Remembrance Day 2018 in Porlock – David

Remembrance Sunday, 11th November at 18.30, Porlock led by our Town Crier Grant Dennis joined with 1000 other communities to commemorate this notable day.  Follow Town Crier link to see the full programme planned for that evening.  A lot had gone on in the day and Melody was back out ringing the church bells, along with many other churches and cathedrals around the country.

To continue the remembrance I have included some more of the songs recorded by the war blinded veterans of St Dunstan’s, now Blind Veterans UK.  These were recorded for Melody in 1985 when she worked with these veterans of The First World War and Second World War.

If you would like to donate to St Dunstan’s please follow this link to – Blind Veterans UK where you will find a DONATE  button at the top of the page.

St Dunstan’s choristers with wartime songs part 2- Melody

More songs by these blind war veterans are available at the bottom of this page.

During the early 1980’s  while  working  at St Dunstan’s Ovingdean I wrote this poem.

St Dunstan’s is a Joy,
Heaven sent, to be sure,
A helping hand to secure.

The stories are many,
Their pain very real,
Yet shining with intensity,
Is their courage,
Their Zeal.

Some days may seem bleak,
This is surely so,
Their eyes see a distant life,
Of long ago.

They feel old limbs,
Once fresh and young,
While agile minds,
See humour carrying them along.

Their brave fight-the battle is won.

During my time at St Dunstan’s I was deeply moved by the bravery of those I cared for.  Every day was a challenge yet humour really did carry them along.

One memory I’ll share today was my dancing lessons with Elmer Richards..

Elmer was blinded in the First World War, he had, I remember really soft hands and a beautiful almost porcelain  complexion, with a warm  gentle humorous face.  Elmer liked to dance at the tea dances held in the afternoons.   I’d never learnt to Waltz so watched on.

I remember one day while walking along the promenade from The Brighton Pier to Ovingdean, a walk Elmer liked to do whenever he could.  Elmer decided to teach me to dance, there and then –   he couldn’t see the folk watching as they passed by. I remember laughing as he took hold of me and swirled me into a waltz. Elmer taught me, one two three, one two three, back, to one side then forward, something like that.

Elmer Richards St Dunstans warblind veteran with Melody
Elmer Richards St Dunstans warblind veteran with Melody

On most of our walks along the prom  Elmer  would dance.  I expect people got used to seeing a man with a white stick and hat swirling around a young lady. I remember the day I danced at my first tea dance, in my uniform.  One St Dunstener I remember remarked,” where did you learn to dance? your quite good”.

Elmer also taught me to play bowls which he loved, a great way to spend a rainy day. I remember he brought me a pair of white Daps  in Woolworths. as I’d  said in passing that the walking was wearing out my shoes. Elmer had never heard plimsoles called  Daps. It’s a Somerset saying!

Elmer  loved it when I told him how smart he looked in his  white bowls uniform which he wore for his matches.  Dear Elmer, what a lovely old  friend he was.

>If you would like to donate to St Dunstan’s please follow this link to – Blind Veterans UK where you will find a DONATE  button at the top of the page.

St Dunstan’s choristers with wartime songs – Melody

One of my most treasured possessions is a tape made for me by my dear friend Harry Wheeler with his friends  35 years ago while working at St Dunstan’s – now Blind Veterans uk.  Harry served in the First World War he loved to sing to me and tell me tales of his time in the trenches.

If you would like to donate to St Dunstan’s please follow this link to – Blind Veterans UK where you will find a DONATE  button at the top of the page.

To commemorate 100 years since peace was proclaimed, it seems the right time to share  these songs to honour his and other precious friends service.  I  hope through my memoirs  with St Dunstan’s will also  give  the opportunity for donations.

When I was twenty two my mother, Marie lead a team of 25  looking after the day to day care of the residents of Pearson House.  At the time I was a beauty consultant for Mary Quant, however, in my spare time I enjoyed spending time with the blind folk.  When a full time position came up I applied,  it seems I was  the youngest care assistant ever to be employed.

Being a care assistant  was the best experience of my life, I loved  the first and Second World War veterans, and the young soldiers blinded more recently, their brave humour was always inspirational.

On my first day I was asked for the Braille mirror!!  I was told to go to the information desk to ask for it.. Laughter rang all  around at my  naivety … My first day also involved talking to a blind young soldier.  A face grey and  blue from gunpowder, and wounds where his eyes had been. I think he liked having me to talk to as he was only 19. When I escorted him out to Brighton Pier I remember describing some pretty lace, he brought his Mum a hanky and kindly gave me one too.  I also remember how fiercely he clutched my arm as I walked.  Harry a First World War veteran and other veterans would walk confidently simply holding my elbow gently.

Harry Wheeler, and the other older veterans would  help the newly blind with humour and gentleness. The men all held my hand I remember, for comfort.

I’ve many stories I should love to share to accompany these songs, 55 in total but not all here at this time, starting with songs from the Boer War through the First World War and up to The Second World War

I will be eternally grateful to the men and women who gave me so much for our freedom.