VIDEO: Soldier and man he blinded tell their story

You could hear a pin drop in the hall at Berwick Academy as Charles Innes and Richard Moore addressed an audience of both students and teachers.

The pair were united by the tragic events of May 4 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland, when Charles fired a rubber bullet that would change Richard’s life forever.

Richard Moore and Charles Innes speaking at Berwick Acadamy

Richard Moore and Charles Innes speaking at Berwick Acadamy

Then just ten-years-old, Richard was blinded as a result of the incident, one which Charles, a young soldier with the Royal Artillery at the time, will also never forget.

He didn’t take aim at Richard or mean to deprive him of his sight, but Charles’ thoughts were never far from what had happened to Richard.

The two met properly for the first time in 2006 after Richard penned a heartfelt letter to Charles, who lives in Whitsome, telling him he felt no anger towards him.

Since their first meeting the two have remained close friends and staged a number of talks to raise the profile of Richard’s charity, Children in Crossfire.

Richard arrived in Berwick last week with his youngest daughter Enya, and he and Charles commanded their audience’s attention with an emotive talk that reduced some people to tears.

“It was my brother Noel who told me that I’d been left blind,” Richard told a packed room at Berwick Academy.

“I took it in my stride for the rest of that day but that night I cried myself to sleep because I realised I’d never see my mammy and daddy again.

“My dad was an unemployed shoemaker at the time, he didn’t have any money but I remember him saying to the doctor ‘can I give him my eyes?’”

“Being blind isn’t actually something I think about an awful lot but I would have loved to have seen my daughters being born and them walking up the aisle at their first communion.”

To some it may seem absolutely staggering that Richard would even want to talk to Charles let alone forge a friendship with him, but watching the two together it was clear they have a great deal of respect and admiration for each other.

“I often wondered about the British soldier and if he ever thought of me,” Richard added.

“And when I met Charles I met a father, a grandfather and a human being.”

○A similar talk at Norham Church last Saturday raised £500 for Children in Crossfire.