As a Rehabilitation Training Liaison Officer for Blind Veterans UK, 48 year old Billy Baxter is an inspiration to our new members when they visit our Llandudno rehabilitation, care and training centre. His extrovert personality and positive attitude is infectious. He is also the town Cior for Llandudno.
But as Billy says, he would not be alive today if it were not for the emotional strength of his wife Karen and the support of Blind Veterans UK.
When Billy Baxter, a former Staff Sergeant in the British Army, lost his sight in 1997 from a virus, he became extremely bitter and depressed.
Billy said: "I was ready to commit suicide, I felt useless and angry and I didn't want to put Karen and the kids through any more misery. If it hadn't been for Karen and Blind Veterans UK I would not have the great life I have now".
Shortly before Billy was discharged from the Army, Karen found out about Blind Veterans UK, but Billy refused to apply for membership, being too proud to admit he needed help. So Karen enquired on his behalf and managed to persuade Billy to go on an introductory stay with the organisation.
Karen said: "When Billy lost his sight he was very, very angry. Everything me and the kids did he would snap at us for. I had had enough and was ready to pack my bags and leave him. But when he came back from Blind Veterans UK's training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton he was the real Billy again. It was such a relief and we are just so grateful."
Billy said: "When I arrived at the centre and met the staff and other members of Blind Veterans UK I realised I wasn't alone. That changed everything for me."
Karen adds: "I never thought that Billy would be able to work again, so when he got the job at Blind Veterans UK's Llandudno centre I couldn't believe it. It is so fantastic, we are so happy now."