26/06/2019Sir Arthur Pearson Receives English Heritage Blue Plaque
- New plaque commemorates founder of St Dunstan’s (now Blind Veterans UK)
Sir Arthur Pearson, newspaper publisher and founder of St Dunstan’s (Blind Veterans UK), has been commemorated with a blue plaque today (26 June). The plaque marks the Grade II* listed house on Portland Place in Marylebone where he lived with his wife and some of the blinded servicemen supported by St Dunstan’s in the later years of the First World War and just afterwards.
English Heritage’s Chair of the Blue Plaques Panel, Ronald Hutton, said: "Arthur Pearson was a tireless advocate for blind people, particularly those blinded in the service of their country and we are delighted to celebrate his legacy here today, where he lived for a number of years, at a house once listed in the street directory as 'Pearson’s Hostel for Blind Officers'."
Pearson made his fortune as a magazine and newspaper magnate, founding the Daily Express in 1900 and later acquiring The Evening Standard, but turned his attentions to campaigning for the blind after he was told that he would soon lose his sight in 1913. He went on to play a significant role in on-going social and legal battles for recognition of the rights of those with disabilities and was instrumental in changing the public perceptions of blindness.
Established as a charity during the First World War, St Dunstan’s helped around 3,000 blinded servicemen (and a few women) and went on to care for and offer training and rehabilitation to those blinded in the Second World War and subsequent conflicts: over 35,000 ex-servicemen and women have benefited from the charity’s assistance in making a fulfilling life for themselves. As Pearson wrote, 'I wanted them to be led to look upon blindness, not as an affliction, but as a handicap; not merely as a calamity, but as an opportunity' (Pearson, Victory Over Blindness, 1919, pp. 12-13).
The English Heritage London Blue Plaques scheme is generously supported by David Pearl and members of the public.