A BLIND veteran has struck up a “brilliant” new friendship with a volunteer after coronavirus lockdown left him feeling lonely.

Brighton widower Peter Pope, 91, was isolated when lockdown measures meant he could no longer visit the Blind Veterans UK centre in Ovingdean to “chinwag” with comrades.

But four months later Peter, who lives in Stanmer Heights, Hollingbury, is happier than ever having struck up a new friendship with charity volunteer Sylvia Woodcock, 75.

The two were matched as part of Blind Veterans UK’s befriending service to ensure the heroes it helps do not become lonely in lockdown.

“I felt terrible when the centre closed,” said Peter, who suffers from retinal detachment and glaucoma.

“I just loved visiting and having a good chinwag with other blind veterans in the same position as myself.

“During isolation I started to get quite lonely.

The Argus: Peter used to go to the Blind Veterans UK building in Ovingdean twice a week before lockdownPeter used to go to the Blind Veterans UK building in Ovingdean twice a week before lockdown

“Luckily I started to get phone calls from Sylvia which has been absolutely brilliant.

“It’s so nice to chat and just have some company. The charity really has helped me a lot.

“They’re always so friendly and caring, I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

Peter’s sight has been in decline for 21 years and he began receiving support from Blind Veterans UK two years ago.

Having joined the Army when he was 18, he spent two years with the Royal Pioneer Corps before serving in the Merchant Navy for 12 years.

“He’s such an interesting chap,” said new friend Sylvia.

“We love having a laugh and a joke together.

“I love our weekly chats and because of them Peter has become a great friend to me.”

Sylvia called on others to volunteer with Blind Veterans UK. “You can really see the difference you’re making to someone’s life,” she said.

“That gives me a lot of pleasure.”

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund