Her Majesty The Queen will host a Reception to celebrate the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust

Her Majesty The Queen will host a Reception to celebrate the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust

Today, Tuesday 29 October 2019, Her Majesty The Queen will host a Reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the completion of the Trust’s programmes to end avoidable forms of blindness and to empower young people across the Commonwealth.

Established as a time-limited charitable foundation by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2012 to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Trust has delivered a series of five-year programmes aimed at enriching the lives of people in every country of the Commonwealth. Over £100 million in donations from governments, corporates, trusts, foundations, community groups and individuals was received from across the Commonwealth in support of the Trust’s mission to leave a lasting legacy in honour of The Queen.

The Reception at Buckingham Palace marks the successful completion of the Trust’s five-year programmes in advance of its planned closure early next year. The Queen will be joined at the Reception by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, Vice-Patron of the Trust and the Chairman of the Trust, Sir John Major. Supporters of the Trust, including the UK’s International Development Secretary whose Department donated £50 million to the Trust, will also be in attendance, together with eye health professionals from 28 Commonwealth countries who have been at the forefront of the Trust’s work.

As part of its efforts to curb avoidable blindness, the Trust has helped more than 22 million people in Africa and the Pacific receive vital antibiotics to combat trachoma – the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. Over 104,000 people with the advanced stage of trachoma have received sight-saving surgery; almost 19,200 – across three Commonwealth regions – have received treatment to prevent the loss of sight due to diabetes; and services have been set up to screen and treat premature babies with Retinopathy of Prematurity – the leading cause of childhood blindness - across four districts in India, serving a population of nearly 50 million.

Beyond the immediate treatment of people at risk of blindness, the Trust has mobilised and equipped individuals and organisations across the Commonwealth, through innovation and pan-Commonwealth exchange, to ensure no-one in the future becomes blind from causes that can be prevented. 

The Trust has also created and empowered a unique network of young people – the Queen’s Young Leaders - who are working to tackle some of the Commonwealth’s most pressing issues, including climate change, mental health and access to education, to improve lives. Over the course of four years, 240 Awards were given to inspiring young people in 53 Commonwealth countries. The aim was to enable and encourage them to step-up as leaders and take forward their pioneering work at scale to help transform communities and continue transforming lives for years to come.

The Trust’s Chairman The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH, said:

Many lives have been touched by the Trust’s programmes – and some have been transformed forever. The Trust’s achievements would not have been possible without the quite extraordinary network of support we have received from all our partners and benefactors – too numerous to list. On behalf of the Trust, I would like to express my heartfelt and grateful thanks to them all.

Key country achievements include:

  • Two countries – Malawi and Vanuatu - will soon apply to be recognised trachoma-free by World Health Organization having successfully removed trachoma as a public health problem. Nine further Commonwealth countries are on track to eliminate the disease by 2025 thanks to the Trust’s programmes to end trachoma;
  • More than 85,000 health care practitioners and community workers have been trained to detect symptoms of trachoma and deliver sight saving treatments across Africa and the Pacific often in remote, overlooked areas;
  • 13 countries now provide eye screening and treatment for the millions at risk of losing sight to diabetic retinopathy – a complication of diabetes which can lead to irreversible blindness;
  • India has adopted and implemented national healthcare guidelines to ensure babies born prematurely, whose eye sight is at risk from retinopathy of prematurity – the leading cause of childhood blindness, receive screening and treatment as a standard part of their neo-natal care;
  • More than 200,000 children in Kenya have had their eyes screened using Peek Vision – a smartphone vision-testing app that has been downloaded by 50,000 people in 160 countries.

With avoidable blindness and vision loss remaining a challenge, momentum generated is set to be maintained. At their meeting in 2018, Commonwealth Heads of Government, citing the work of the Trust, committed for the first time to take further action towards eliminating trachoma and achieving access to quality eye care for all people in the Commonwealth. 

The work of the Trust, through its affiliation with The Queen, the support offered by Commonwealth Governments and the tireless work of partners, has succeeded in effecting change across the globe. The Trust will close as planned in 2020, with its mission living on in each and every person it has had the privilege to help and through those it has equipped to continue changing lives for years to come.