Who We Are

With the support of our Vice-Patron and governed by our Board of Trustees, we are working to enrich the lives of people from all backgrounds within the Commonwealth, by eliminating avoidable blindness and empowering a new generation of young leaders.

Advisory bodies, together with a network of representatives from countries across the Commonwealth, ensure that our work is informed and guided by expertise of the highest calibre.

Vice Patron

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex is Vice-Patron of the Trust and provides invaluable support to the cause of ending avoidable blindness.

Her Royal Highness The Countess Of Wessex GCVO

Her Royal Highness The Countess Of Wessex GCVO

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Her Royal Highness The Countess Of Wessex GCVO
Vice Patron
Vice Patron

On 20 January 2015, on the occasion of her 50th birthday, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex became Vice-Patron of the Trust.

The Countess has for some years brought invaluable support to the cause of ending avoidable blindness.  As Patron of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, HRH has extensive first-hand knowledge of the impact of avoidable blindness around the world, and of the combined efforts underway by Governments, organisations and the private sector to curb it.

The Countess carried out her first engagement with the Trust on 20 January 2015, visiting the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to learn more about the Trust's avoidable blindness programmes.

Trustees

The Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees who set the Trust’s strategic direction and approve all operational and financial plans.

The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH

The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH

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The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH
Chairman
Chairman

Sir John entered the British Parliament in 1979, and Government in 1983. He joined the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1987; was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in July 1989; and Chancellor of the Exchequer in October 1989. He served as Prime Minister from November 1990 to May 1997, and retired from the House of Commons at the UK General Election in May 2001.

Since leaving Parliament in 2001, Sir John has taken up various business interests including Senior Advisor to Credit Suisse; Chairman of the European Advisory Council, Emerson Electric Company, St. Louis; Chairman of the Board of Senior Advisors, Global Infrastructure Partners; and Chairman of the Global Advisory Board, AECOM.
 

On New Year’s Day 1999, Sir John was appointed a Companion of Honour in recognition of his initiation of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. On St George’s Day 2005, HM The Queen appointed him a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. In May 2012, he was awarded the Grand Cordon of The Order of The Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan.
 

Sir John also serves as Patron or President of a number of charitable organisations both in the UK and overseas. In October 2011, he was appointed Chairman of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, a Commonwealth-wide initiative established to create a lasting legacy to Her Majesty’s 60 years as Sovereign.

The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC

The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC

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The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC
Commonwealth Secretary-General
Commonwealth Secretary-General

Baroness Scotland has achieved a number of extraordinary firsts: In 1991 at the age of thirty five, she became the first black and youngest woman ever to be appointed Queen’s Counsel. She was the first black woman to be appointed Deputy High Court Judge, Recorder, Master of Middle Temple, Member of the House of Lords, and Lord’s Minister, and is the first and only woman ever to have been appointed as Attorney General.

In 2001 she became Parliamentary Secretary and Deputy to the Lord Chancellor and was made a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. In 2003 Baroness Scotland was made Minister of State for Criminal Justice and Law Reform at the Home Office and in 2007 she was appointed as HM Attorney General for England Wales and Northern Ireland.

Baroness Scotland undertook major reform of the criminal justice system, including the introduction of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act, and during her term of office from 2003-7 crime in England and Wales was reduced to its lowest level since 1981. During this period Baroness Scotland chaired the Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence which collectively worked together to reduce domestic violence by 64% and led to £7.5bn reduction in the economic cost of domestic violence in England and Wales.

She has won many awards in recognition of her achievements including being voted Peer of the Year, Parliamentarian of the Year and receiving a lifetime achievement award from Euromoney Legal Media Group. In 2008, The Guardian named Baroness Scotland the most powerful female black Briton.

 Baroness Scotland is the founding patron of the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence, and in 2011, she founded the Eliminate Domestic Violence Global Foundation. In November 2012, she was appointed Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to South Africa.

On November 2015, in Malta, the Commonwealth Heads of Government appointed The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC of Dominica as the first woman and the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General. She assumed office on 1 April, 2016.

The Baroness Hogg of Kettlethorpe

The Baroness Hogg of Kettlethorpe

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The Baroness Hogg of Kettlethorpe
Trustee
Trustee

Sarah Hogg is Lead Independent Director of HM Treasury and a Director of the John Lewis Partnership and the Financial Conduct Authority. She is also a Member of the Takeover Panel.

Sarah has extensive experience of business, government and the media, having worked at the highest level in all three. She was Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council from 2010 to 2014, and Chairman of 3i Group plc from 2002 to 2010.  From 1999 to 2014 she was the founding Chairman of Frontier Economics, and she has been a Director of several FTSE 100 companies.  As Head of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit from 1990 to 1995, she was closely involved in the programmes of privatisation and private finance, performance measurement in public services and international economic issues.  She was the then Prime Minister’s closest adviser on the Uruguay round of trade negotiations.

Before that Sarah Hogg was responsible for the economics coverage of a number of Britain’s most respected publications, including The Economist, The Times and the Daily Telegraph. She was involved in the start-up of The Independent, hiring and managing its award-winning business team from 1986 to 1989.

She was created a Life Peer in the 1995 New Year’s Honours List.

The Rt Hon The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG Hon FRSE

The Rt Hon The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG Hon FRSE

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The Rt Hon The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG Hon FRSE
Trustee
Trustee

Lord (George Islay MacNeill) Robertson is Special Adviser to BP and Senior International Adviser to Cable and Wireless Communications plc, where he served as Deputy Chairman 2004-2007.  He was NATO Secretary General from 1999-2003 and UK Defence Secretary from 1997-1999.  He was Member of Parliament for Hamilton and Hamilton South from 1978-1999.

He was born in Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Scotland and educated at Dunoon Grammar School and the University of Dundee.

From 1969-1978 he was Scottish Organiser with the GMB trade union.    From 1979-1993 he held senior parliamentary Opposition roles including 11 years on Foreign Affairs and in particular Europe.  In 1993 he was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and served as Principal Opposition Spokesman on Scotland (Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland).

He was appointed the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence in 1997. In October 1999 he was appointed 10th Secretary General of NATO and elevated to the House of Lords.

Lord Robertson was appointed to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in 1997, personally appointed by the Queen as one of the sixteen Knight of the Thistle (KT), and awarded the GCMG (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George) in 2004.  In 2011 he was appointed Chancellor of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. He was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s top civilian honour, in 2003, and has been awarded the highest national honours from many countries.  He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2003 and has fourteen Honorary Doctorates.  He is Honorary Professor of Politics at the University of Stirling.

He is a Non Executive Director of The Weir Group plc and Western Ferries (Clyde) Ltd., and Senior Counselor at The Cohen Group (USA).  He was Deputy Chairman of TNK-BP from 2006-2013.  He served on the Board of the Smiths Group plc, and Monaco Telecom SA.  He is Chairman of the Ditchley Foundation, an Elder Brother of Trinity House, Chairman of the Commission on Global Road Safety and Co-Chairman of the UK/Russia Round Table. He is on the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Centre for European Reform and the European Council on Foreign Relations. He served as Joint President of Chatham House 2001-2011.  He is Honorary Regimental Colonel of the London Scottish (Volunteers).

He is married to Sandra, has three grown-up children, four grandchildren and lives in Dunblane, Scotland. He plays golf, and takes photographs (a book of them has been published by Birlinn; “Islay and Jura: Photographs by George Robertson”).

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD KCVO

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD KCVO

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The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD KCVO
Trustee
Trustee

Richard Chartres became the 132nd Bishop of London in November 1995

He was educated at Hertford Grammar School and studied history at Trinity College Cambridge. Before ordination he taught Ancient History at the International School in Seville.

He was ordained in 1973 and served as a curate in St Andrew’s Bedford. In 1975 he was appointed Chaplain to Robert Runcie, then Bishop of St Albans, and from 1980-84 he served as the Archbishop’s Chaplain at Lambeth and Canterbury.

He moved to St Stephen’s Rochester Row in the Diocese of London in 1984. During eight years in the parish he also served as Director of Ordinands for the Central Area and as Gresham Professor of Divinity.

He was consecrated Bishop of Stepney on 22 May 1992.

After his move to the see of London, he was appointed Dean of HM Chapels Royal in 1996 and a Privy Counsellor. This accounts for the curious fact that the Bishop of London is the only bishop who bears the title ‘Right Honourable’ in addition to the usual ‘Right Reverend’. He is an ex officio member of the House of Lords.

He is President of Bible Society, an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, Chairman of the Ecumenical ‘London Church Leaders’, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a WWF-UK Ambassador and is associated with numerous other London organisations.

He deputises for the Archbishop of Canterbury as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners. He is also responsible on behalf of the Archbishop for relations with the Orthodox Churches.

He is founder and life president of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.

His publications include ‘The History of Gresham College 1597-1997’ (with David Vermont) and ‘Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Life’ (2005) and many articles and essays especially on religion and the environment.

The Rt Hon Sir Christopher Geidt KCB KCVO OBE

The Rt Hon Sir Christopher Geidt KCB KCVO OBE

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The Rt Hon Sir Christopher Geidt KCB KCVO OBE
Trustee
Trustee
John  Spence CBE DL

John Spence CBE DL

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John Spence CBE DL
Treasurer
Treasurer

John Spence is our Treasurer. He was born in Edinburgh, educated there and in Dublin and Harvard, and had 32 years with the Lloyds Banking Group, where he held six Managing Director positions.

He is Finance Chairman for the Archbishop’s Council of the Church of England and Non-Executive Chairman of the Spicerhaart Group Ltd and Callcredit Information Group Ltd. He is the Cabinet Member for Finance on Essex County Council. He has had many Chairman or board roles in voluntary, church, public and private organisations and remains President of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, as well as a board member at Anglia Ruskin University.

Blind himself, he has chaired or presided at several national disability charities. He has successively received the MBE, OBE and CBE for services to the community, charity and business respectively.

Gerrard Tyrell CVO

Gerrard Tyrell CVO

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Gerrard Tyrell CVO

Gerrard, a Solicitor and Senior Partner of Harbottle & Lewis LLP solicitors, is the Trust’s Company Secretary

Simon Walker CBE

Simon Walker CBE

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Simon Walker CBE

Simon Walker CBE was Director-General of the Institute of Directors from 2011-2017. He had previously been chief executive of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing at Reuters, and Director of Corporate Affairs at British Airways. He was Communications Secretary to HM The Queen at Buckingham Palace from 2000 to 2002 and a member of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit at No 10 Downing Street from 1995-1997.   

He is currently the lead non-executive director of the Department for International Trade and a senior advisor to Greenbrook Communications.  

Simon was also Chairman of the Global Network of Directors Institutes, the international umbrella group for corporate governance organisations, from 2016-2017. He is a member of the International Integrated Reporting Council, the UK governor of the Sir Edmund Hillary Institute, a council member of the European Policy Forum and an independent governor of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.


He has worked in London, Brussels, New Zealand and the United States in a variety of communications and journalistic roles. He was educated at Stanford and at Balliol College, Oxford where he was President of the Oxford Union.

Staff

The day-to-day operation of the Trust is overseen by the Chief Executive and carried out by a small team based in London.

Dr Astrid Bonfield CBE

Dr Astrid Bonfield CBE

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Dr Astrid Bonfield CBE
Chief Executive
Chief Executive

Dr Astrid Bonfield was appointed Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in June 2012.

Dr Bonfield received a Doctorate of Philosophy in Social Anthropology from Manchester University. She was Director of the Zimbabwean NGO Inter-Country Peoples’ Aid, a Programme Development Specialist at the Bernard van Leer Foundation in the Netherlands focusing on HIV/AIDS and growing up in indigenous societies and Director of Policy at the Aga Khan Foundation (UK).

In October 2005 Dr Bonfield joined The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund as Chief Executive. She formerly served on the Board of the Association of Charitable Foundations and was past Chairperson of the European Foundation Centre HIV/AIDS Funders Group and the Management Group of the Corston Independent Funders’ Coalition.

Dr Bonfield was appointed to the Board of the Big Lottery Fund in October 2012. She is a Trustee of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

Dr Bonfield received a CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours list for her services to the charitable sector in the UK and Abroad.

Eleanor Fuller OBE

Eleanor Fuller OBE

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Eleanor Fuller OBE
Director of Advocacy and Commonwealth Engagement
Director of Advocacy and Commonwealth Engagement

Eleanor holds an MA in Modern Languages from Somerville College, University of Oxford. She joined Her Britannic Majesty’s Diplomatic Service directly from Oxford and was posted to Paris, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Geneva and Strasbourg, where she was UK Permanent Representative at the Council of Europe with personal rank of ambassador from 2007 to 2012.   The United Kingdom held the rotating chairmanship of the 47-member Council of Europe from November 2011 to May 2012. During this time Eleanor chaired the Committee of Ministers’ Deputies, the governing body of the Council of Europe.

Eleanor’s varied diplomatic career had a particular focus on multilateral diplomacy and on development. It included stints outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (1994-1996), and on loan to the Department for International Development (2003-2005).

Eleanor Fuller received an OBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to human rights and diplomacy.

Rosemary Mitchell

Rosemary Mitchell

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Rosemary Mitchell
Director of Strategy and Operations
Director of Strategy and Operations

Rosemary joined the Trust in December 2011, initially on loan from the Cabinet Office to help set up the Trust. Rosemary previously worked as a ministerial policy adviser at the Cabinet Office for 11 years. She was responsible for designing and delivering a number of multi-million pound grant programmes and social investment schemes for the charity and social enterprise sector. Prior to that Rosemary worked in government finance, and was responsible for overseeing the budget of a large government agency. She has also considerable expertise in contracting and procurement.

Rosemary has been a trustee of two local charities and was a volunteer at her local branch of the Samaritans for four years.

Dr Andrew Cooper

Dr Andrew Cooper

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Dr Andrew Cooper
Director of Programmes
Director of Programmes

Dr Andrew Cooper joined the Trust in 2013 as Director of Programmes. He had previously worked on both UK and international programmes at the Big Lottery Fund and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

In 2007 Andrew was awarded a PhD from London South Bank University and later published a book with Routledge titled ‘Changing Gay Male Identities’.

He is currently managing strategic partnerships with organisations across the Commonwealth to deliver the Trust’s avoidable blindness and youth programmes.

Effie Blythe

Effie Blythe

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Effie Blythe
Director of Communications
Director of Communications

Effie joined the Trust as Director of Communications in November 2013.                            

After graduating from the University of Manchester with a BA (Hons) in History, Effie worked at the Refugee Council before joining The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, a spend-out foundation working to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world, where she headed up their Communications Team.

Effie was formerly a Trustee for Groundswell, a charity based in London which exists to enable homeless and vulnerable people to take more control of their lives, have a greater influence on services and to play a fuller role in their communities.

Annike Spiller

Annike Spiller

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Annike Spiller
Communications Officer (Maternity Leave)
Communications Officer (Maternity Leave)

Annike joined the Trust as Communications Officer in October 2013 after spending a year teaching English in Barcelona, Spain.

She previously worked in the Communications department at The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, a spend-out grant-maker that worked to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world.

Annike graduated from the University of Surrey in 2007 with a BSc Hons degree in Psychology, specialising in Social Psychology and the portrayal of minority groups in the British press.

Annike has volunteered to support the educational needs of young people in the UK and internationally, and currently volunteers as a learning mentor for young girls from socially marginalised communities at the Baytree Centre in Brixton.

Matt Little

Matt Little

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Matt Little
Policy Officer
Policy Officer

Matt joined the Trust as policy officer in January 2014.

He previously worked in development for a London-based charitable foundation supporting female grassroots leaders in India. His experience also includes interning with organisations working on governmental accountability in the UK and legal rights for communities in Lesotho.

Before moving back to the UK in 2010, he spent several years working as an English teacher in Japan and Argentina.

Matt has an MSc in International Public Policy from University College London and a BA from the University of York.

Diana Campbell-Smith

Diana Campbell-Smith

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Diana Campbell-Smith
Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive
Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive

Diana joined the Trust during the summer of 2012 as Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive, Dr Astrid Bonfield.

Diana read Education Studies and Modern Languages at Cambridge University.  Her first job was in Nagoya, Japan teaching at the University of Business and Commerce for 3 years.

When she returned to UK she took senior administrative roles in the City for the Managing Director of a Japanese bank and an HR Director in New York.

Diana then moved to Athens, Greece with her family and worked in shipping insurance and also wrote for various TEFL publications.

Most recently, she worked for six years for a British medical devices company as Personal Assistant to the Company Secretary assisting the board of directors.

Aabida Mohmed

Aabida Mohmed

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Aabida Mohmed
Financial Controller
Financial Controller

Aabida joined the Trust as Financial Controller in February 2016.

After beginning her professional training in the commercial sector, Aabida moved into the voluntary sector to realise an ambition of working for non-profit driven organisations. Aabida has been fortunate to work for a range of organisations, some with a large international presence and others with a wide coverage of the UK, but always in a position to create value for the organisation from within the Finance function.

Aabida completed her professional training at the Royal Mencap Society and embarked on a MSc in Charity Accounting and Financial Management at Cass Business School, which she recently completed.

Samantha Wood

Samantha Wood

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Samantha Wood
Communications Officer
Communications Officer

Sammy joined the Trust as the Events & Special Initiatives Assistant in March 2016.

After graduating from Northumbria University, Sammy worked at Wings for Life, a spinal cord injury research charity as an Events Intern and most recently she worked at Comic Relief as an Events Assistant on the Sport Relief Games.

She has always had a keen interest for International Development and has fundraised and volunteered for a number of charities including the Ghana Education Project. As part of a small team they raised £37,000 towards building a girl’s school in Nkwanta, in the Volta Region of Ghana. She then visited the work that the charity funds, taught in the local school and helped to develop the sporting initiatives within the village.

George Smith

George Smith

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George Smith
Programmes Assistant
Programmes Assistant

George joined the Trust as an intern in February 2017 and is now working as Programmes Assistant.  

He graduated from King’s College London in 2014, and subsequently worked in France for 18 months as an English teacher.

His previous work has also included research and communications roles in the charity sector. He is interested in International Development and the broader NGO sector.


Advisors

The Board of Trustees has set up advisory bodies and appointed country representatives to ensure that our work is informed and guided by expertise of the highest calibre and so that we have strong connections across the Commonwealth.

  • Commonwealth Country Representatives

    The Trust is supported by a network of representatives from countries across the Commonwealth who advocate on our behalf to raise awareness about the Trust’s work and support fundraising efforts.

    Australia: Australia Major General Michael Jeffery, AC, AO(Mil), CVO, MC (Retd)

    Bangladesh: Ajmalul Hossain QC

    Barbados: Dr Sir Trevor Carmichael KA LVO SCM QC

    Botswana: Mr Patrick Balopi

    Canada: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, P.C., O.M., C.C., Q.C

    Dominica: Mr Reginald Winston

    Jamaica: Ambassador Burchell Whiteman

    Malaysia: Dato’ Sri Mohd Nazir Abdul Razak

    Namibia: The Honourable Professor Peter Katjavivi MP

    New Zealand: Sir Don McKinnon, ONZ GCVO

    Nigeria: President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR

    Pakistan: Mr Faisal Karim Kundi

    Rwanda: Mr Faustin Mbundu

    St Lucia:Dr Charmaine M Gardner SLMH, BA, LLD (honoris causa)

    St Vincent and the Grenadines: Ms Rene Baptiste CMG

    Samoa Namulauulu Sami Leota

    Seychelles: Mrs Marie-Pierre Lloyd

    Solomon Islands: Sir Thomas Chan

    Tonga: Dr Sione Ngongo Kioa

    Uganda: Dr Martin Aliker

    Zambia: Mr George Sokota

    A Commonwealth Advisory Panel, comprising the High Commissioners of all Commonwealth countries, provides the Trust with counsel and Commonwealth perspectives on our activities and Programmes. Meeting three times a year, it is chaired by the Commonwealth Secretary General.

  • Scientific Advisory Board

    The Trust’s Scientific Advisory Board scrutinises the work of our Avoidable Blindness Programme. It provides our Board of Trustees with expert guidance to inform our strategy and approach. Meeting up to three times a year, the Scientific Advisory Board is co-chaired by Peter Ackland and Dr Serge Resnikoff.

    Peter Ackland: Chief Executive Officer, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness

    Professor Hugh R Taylor: President, International Council of Ophthalmology

    Dr Delna Ghandhi: Department for International Development

    Professor John Dart: Hon. Professor, Moorfields Eye Hospital

    Dr Hanna Bassey Faal: Adjunct Professor – International Eye Health, University of Calabar and Teaching Hospital, Nigeria

    Professor Clare Gilbert: Professor of International Eye Health, International Centre for Eye Health

    Dr Gudlavalleti Murthy: Professor and Director, Indian Institute of Public Health

    Dr Anthony Solomon: Medical Officer, Trachoma, World Health Organisation

    Dr Virander Paul: Deputy High Commissioner, High Commission of India

    Professor Serge Resnikoff: President, International Health and Development

    Professor Sir Peng Tee Khaw: Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

  • Audit Committee

    The Audit Committee is a sub-committee of our Board of Trustees. Members are appointed by the Board and provide expert advice on matters relating to financial control, organisational effectiveness and risk management. The Audit Committee is chaired by John Spence and meets up to three times a year.

    John Spence: CBE Financial Chairman for the Archbishop's Council of the Church of England

    Baroness Hogg: Lead Independent Director of HM Treasury

    Simon Dyson: Group Finance Director of Associated Newspapers (Retired)

    Christine Hodgson: Chairman Capgemini UK PLC

    Tom Murdoch: Senior Associate Charity and Social Enterprise Team, Stone King LLP

    Sanjay Patel: Group Finance Director, Strutt and Parker LLP