Blind Norwich veteran welcomed crowds at Hampton Court Gardens

Chris Humphrey, 65 and from Thorpe End, volunteered as an ambassador for Blind Veterans UK. Picture:

Chris Humphrey, 65 and from Thorpe End, volunteered as an ambassador for Blind Veterans UK. Picture: Blind Veterans UK - Credit: Blind Veterans UK

Blind Veterans UK ambassador and gardening enthusiast Chris Humphrey welcomed visitors to this year's military charity event at Royal Horticultural Society Hampton Court Gardens in London.

In his role, Mr Humphrey, of Thorpe End, volunteered at the 'It's all about community' stand, which is one of the largest gardens on display, and was designed by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer.

It was one of only three gardens to receive a gold medal - and an award for the best construction.

Despite the difficulties of being visually-impaired, one of the activities Mr Humphrey adores is gardening.

He has created his own method to remain green-fingered.

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'I use a special rope with knots to measure and feel things like planting distances. It's amazing, really, just how much can be done with feel.'

He has also made a few changes to some of his tools. 'I've also got a special adaptive watering can which doesn't release the water until you press a certain button.'

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Mr Humphrey originally joined the Royal Navy in 1967, beginning his military service as a junior radio operator.

His 11-year military career took him to the Middle East, to Asia and then onto the West Indies on different ships.

'I went everywhere in the world, really, apart from Australia. We were actually meant to go there but our ship ended up catching fire! In the end we had to turn back to Singapore,' he said.

The 65-year-old ex-serviceman suffers from Pseudoxanthoma elasticum, a genetic disorder affecting the elastic fibres in the skin, the retina and the arteries.

He said: 'In a way, I'm lucky that my condition is confined to my sight, as it could've been a lot more serious.'

Mr Humphrey added: 'I still have some peripheral vision in my right eye, but the vision in my left is very distorted.'

Initially he believed only war-blinded veterans were eligible for support with visual impairments.

After speaking to social services, he discovered he was also eligible for help from the charity.

The support he has received has allowed him to work and remain active in the garden.

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