War charity helps put Fife RAF veteran’s hobby back on track

Barry Poll with his model railway set, which he keeps in his garage.
Barry Poll with his model railway set, which he keeps in his garage.

A specialist magnifier from a vision impairment charity has allowed a Glenrothes veteran to resume building his model railway.

Barry Poll (73) was diagnosed with macular degeneration in 2009, which made it increasingly difficult for him to keep up with his hobby.

However, a CCTV reader provided by charity Scottish War Blinded has allowed him to get back on track. The reader enlarges anything held underneath its magnifier onto a large screen.

Barry, who served as an Aircraft Technician with the RAF from 1962 to 1994, joined Scottish War Blinded in 2016.

He said: “One of the first things my Scottish War Blinded outreach worker got me set up with was my CCTV reader. I told them about my model railway and explained that I had a problem with it. I knew what the problem was and I had the instructions and plans to tell me how to put it back together again, but I couldn’t read them.

“I used the CCTV reader to help me see to fix the parts and I realised what I could do with it. I’ve adapted to using it. Now I’ll be working with my hands and looking at the screen instead of what I’m working on, like a brain surgeon.

“I’m not giving up. I’ll get frustrated at times but if I do I’ll just leave it and come back to it. It does get tiring, my eyes get more blurred as the day goes on.”

The father-of-two has lived alone since his wife passed away eight years ago, and is determined to stay as independent and active as possible.

Barry, who has overcome a stroke and cancer, said: “Once the condition was explained to me I knew what to expect. I started meeting people with the same problem at a more advanced stage than me. I saw how they were coping, and I thought, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’

“You have to be positive about it. I have to be, or else I’d just sit in a chair all day. I try to maintain my independence.

“I’m using my CCTV reader every day, for other things as well like letters and post. It’s made such a difference.

“Without the support from the charity, life would be very difficult. I wouldn’t be able to read or work on the model railway. I’d be a lot more reliant on my sons.”