Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, Global Ambassador for the IAPB

Her Royal Highness (HRH), The Countess of Wessex is a member of the UK Royal Family and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

Her Royal Highness splits her time between her work in support of The Queen and visits to a large number of her own charities and organisations. She has a wide range of interests which include supporting people with disabilities, the prevention of blindness in developing countries, agriculture and fashion.

In her role as Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Her Royal Highness visited our work in India in 2013, to experience an Orbis Flying Eye Hospital programme and learn about the sight saving services being provided to the local community in Kolkata. From there, she departed the country with our unique aircraft as our special guest and travelled to Qatar to relay what she had seen.

The Countess passionately discussed the global issues around preventable blindness and the need for funding for eye health programmes. The State of Qatar’s interest in this area resulted in the creation of the Qatar Creating Vision initiative, a sight saving programme funded by the Qatar Fund for Development and implemented by Orbis.

As Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, I am keenly aware of the vast numbers of blind and visually impaired people across the world whose lives might be very different if they could access treatment. Children are missing out on opportunities to learn, to play, to have big dreams and achieve them, simply because they don’t have access to a pair of glasses or routine surgery.

Her Royal Highness

The Countess of Wessex

In 2015, a special celebration was held at Buckingham Palace to announce Qatar Creating Vision and it’s aim to reduce childhood blindness across India and Bangladesh. Programmes began in 2016, and to date, over 6.6 million eye tests and treatments have been delivered.

We were lucky enough to once again welcome Her Royal Highness to our programmes, this time to Dhaka and Chattogram in Bangladesh and then on to Qatar to discuss the progress of the initiative so far. The Countess was even reacquainted with nurse Mammoth Adhikary, who she met in the Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute in 2009. Mammoth was involved in the very first Orbis Flying Eye Hospital programme in Bangladesh back in 1985 and is now Head Nurse at the hospital.

Countess of Wessex meeting Mammoth Adhikary, Flying Eye Hospital nurse from 1985, now head nurse at Islamia

We have been very privileged to welcome Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Wessex, to several of our sight saving programmes in India and Bangladesh. Whilst there, HRH has met patients, families, hospital staff and our medical volunteers, both within local hospitals and on board our Flying Eye Hospital. The depth of her knowledge of eye conditions, her interest in the area and the time she takes when speaking to everyone she meets is inspiring. Over the years, the support Her Royal Highness has given to eye care charities has enabled us to attract more support, and therefore expand our work in countries where eye care services are scarce. The Countess captures the hearts and minds of everyone she meets and we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with her.

Rebecca Cronin

CEO, Orbis UK

Royal visits have been key to drawing global attention to the devastating impact of untreated vision loss.