FUNDRAISING NEWS: WHY I GIVE - Sir John Coles

Sir John Coles is a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and has been a diplomat for more than 40 years. He is now chairman of Sight Savers International

Who do you support?

I support Sight Savers International because of its 50-year record of preventing and curing blindness and because it has a direct, life-changing impact on large numbers of people every year. When I retired as a diplomat, I wanted to give something back.

What have you achieved?

I have been chair for less than two years so it would be wrong to claim any achievement. But when on my overseas visits to Africa and the Indian sub-continent, I see sight being restored, blindness prevented, and visually impaired people being trained to lead fuller lives. I am immensely proud of Sight Savers.

Why do you support Sight Savers?

So often lives can be changed at little expense. Cataracts can often be cured for as little as £15. The scandal is that so many people are unnecessarily blind and that with more effort, resources and political will, most blindness could easily be eradicated. Sight Savers and other organisations are now working to achieve Vision 2020: the eradication of all unnecessary blindness from the world by the year 2020. It can be done.

How does your diplomatic past help?

I must have visited close to 100 countries, often with Prime Ministers, and I have lived and worked in a number of developing countries. I play a role in enlisting the help of governments and in facilitating our understanding of the environment where we work.

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