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International Charity Honours Specsavers Founder

Friday, 13 March 2009

UK charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO), today announced Specsavers co-founder, Dame Mary Perkins as their new official Ambassador.

The accolade comes in recognition of Specsavers ongoing support for VAO, which is dedicated to providing eyecare to people in the developing world.

Dame Mary says; 'I am proud to have received this honour and would like to thank all the Specsavers stores for their contribution. We must never forget that we can take for granted the access to professional eyecare while in the developing world so much more help is needed.

'It is a privilege to be able to help such a worthwhile cause and assist in building a sustainable infrastructure for optical health. With continued support and investment we hope that these infrastructures in each country will become self sufficient '

On Sunday 5 October 2008, more than 450 Specsavers stores nationwide held fundraising activities and donated a percentage of their day's takings to Vision Aid Overseas, raising more than £200,000.

The money has been pledged to build the first-ever School of Optometry in Zambia. The school will include an optical clinic and a workshop and be located at the Chainama School of Health Sciences in Lusaka.

This adds to a total of more than £150,000 that had already been raised by the stores.

Vision Aid Overseas director, Tym Marsh says; 'Vision Aid Overseas has ambitious plans to help the millions of people in the developing world who simply need spectacles to lead a normal life. We are extremely grateful for the support of everyone in Specsavers whose magnificent efforts contributed to the recent fundraising successes. It is tremendous news that Dame Mary has agreed to become an Ambassador for VAO and we look forward to working with her.'

To build upon the success of Dame Mary's work with Vision Aid Overseas, Specsavers will continue to raise money for the charity on an ongoing basis.

Dame Mary Perkins is also a patron of Everywoman and was awarded the spirit of Everywoman in 2006 for her inspirational example to fellow female entrepreneurs.

In Guernsey, Dame Mary is a director of the Guernsey Training Agency, helping to promote training and development in local business and a governor of the Ladies College. She is also a director of the Women's Refuge and President of Age Concern.

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

  • Started in 1985, VAO has provided 600,000 eye tests and given 300,000 people the ability to see with a pair of glasses
  • UK-based charity VAO is dedicated to helping the eyesight of people in the developing world whose lives are blighted by poor eyesight, particularly where spectacles can help.
  • VAO has over projects in eight countries including Zambia, Uganda, Ethiopia and India
  • Vision Aid Overseas currently has three projects in Zambia
  • Zambia has a population of 12 million, but only two or three trained optometrists
  • In 2006/2007, VAO examined 5,472 patients in Zambia and dispensed 4,197 pairs of glasses
  • £21 could pay for an hour's training of an optical worker in Zambia