Tuesday 16 October was a very special day for Blind Veterans UK. Our patron HRH The Countess of Wessex unveiled our ‘Victory Over Blindness’ statue outside Manchester Piccadilly station.
The statue, entitled Victory Over Blindness, depicts seven blinded First World War soldiers leading one another away from the battlefield with their hand on the shoulder of the man in front. Realised by artist and sculptress Johanna Domke-Guyot, the statue will stand proudly outside Manchester Piccadilly station as the only permanent memorial to the injured of that conflict.
“I’m over the moon with how the statue has turned out. It’s been a very long journey and I underestimated how emotional I would feel about the whole process. The time I’ve had with these seven figures over these years and seeing them come to life has been really amazing.
“Bringing them to life again in a bronze that will last for years and years is overwhelming. People will be able to touch them, I want it to become a people’s piece.”
Johanna was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1994 and studied art as a way of dealing with her illness.
She adds: “I remember deciding one day after my diagnosis that I didn’t want to give up. I went back into education and found a new love. I started the piece this bronze is based on in 2011. It was like art therapy for me and, due to relapses, took years in the end.
“My MS means that my fingers are pretty numb so people are always interested in how I’m able to sculpt with so little feeling. I have developed my own techniques over time.”
The seven First World War blind veterans will stand proudly outside Manchester Piccadilly Station and will be the only permanent memorial in the UK marking the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.
Blind Veterans UK supports over 4,700 blind and vision-impaired veterans today. More than ever before in the charity’s history and 50 per cent more than the total number of veterans the charity supported who lost their sight as a result of their service in WWI. The charity estimates there are up to 50,000 blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women who are entitled to their support but not aware of it.