An Irvine veteran with sight loss is feeling elated after taking part in a Veteran Games event in Tel Aviv with the “lifechanging” support of Scottish War Blinded.

Peter Ramsay says he felt honoured to be put forward for the first Veteran Games and Conference in Israel by staff at the charity’s Hawkhead Centre.

The former Gordon Highlanders infantryman, 50, has rare genetic eye condition retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which means he struggles to see in poor light and his peripheral and central vision are affected.

Peter was “devastated” to be medically discharged from service due to his diagnosis in 1991.

But since he began attending Scottish War Blinded’s activity hub in Paisley last year, the dad-of-three says his confidence and happiness have improved hugely.

Peter said: “After I was medically discharged from the army it was a very low time. I was feeling down.

“I had first noticed my sight loss in the army when I was on patrol at night. I kept getting lost and couldn’t see what I was doing, and that’s when they sent me to hospital and I found out I have RP.

“At the time, we didn’t know my mum was a carrier (it’s a hereditary condition). It was devastating.

“There is no current treatment for RP and it is a degenerative condition. At night time I can’t go out by myself, I can’t see in the dark, and in the summer I have to wear dark glasses as the glare from the sun gets me as well. I just get on with it and do my best.”

Now attending the Hawkhead Centre twice a week, Peter says he has made many friends and thoroughly enjoys getting to engage with his passion for cooking and sport. “It’s life changing,” Peter explained.

“It makes a big difference to have other veterans with sight loss there – you can talk with folk who are going through the same kind of thing. Even when you’re feeling down they’ll budge you up again.

“I do archery, bowls, and I’ve done sailing as well. I’m also working on my fitness at the centre’s gym.

“The staff are first class. You feel like you’ve known them all your life and even the other Scottish War Blinded members.”

It was Hawkhead Centre Officers Lorraine Bruce and Abbie Hocking who approached Peter with the opportunity to apply for the Veteran Games and Conference.

He attended the event from May 26 to May 31, which was hosted at Beit Halochem’s rehabilitation centres in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and took his mother along as his guest.

He said: “I was quite shocked to be asked, it was an honour to be asked to go. Lorraine and Abbie thought the break would help me after I lost my dad recently.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’d said to me a few years ago I’d be going to Israel and doing all these activities I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Rebecca Barr, Director of Scottish War Blinded, said: “All of us have been delighted to see how far Peter has come along since he started at the Hawkhead Centre. We were very happy to support him in his journey.”