Actor and campaigner Joanna contacted us in 1997, touched by a Sightsavers appeal she had seen in a newspaper. She travelled to Bangladesh in 2005, where she watched as five-year-old Arif saw his mother for the first time after having his cataracts removed.
Joanna said of the experience: “I can’t imagine a more moving or humbling experience than witnessing a child being able to see for the first time in their life.” Read what happened when Joanna met Arif eight years later.
Joanna also took part in the 2015 BGC Charity Day on behalf of Sightsavers.
Journalist and TV presenter Lorraine became an ambassador for Sightsavers in 2011 after taking part in the Comic Relief BT Red Nose Desert Trek across northern Kenya. She says: “What really struck me about Sightsavers is that for a small amount of money you can transform someone’s life, taking them from the misery of blindness to a future of independence, often for as little as £5.”
Lorraine also fronted Lorraine on Sightsavers’ Radio 4 Appeal, which was hugely successful and raised £35,000.
The British actor, television writer and producer, who presents US talk show The Late Late Show, starred in The Feel Bad Four, an innovative short film for Sightsavers shot by photographer Rankin in 2012.
About the project, James said: “When Rankin asked me to be involved in this charity advert it took me all of two seconds to say yes! It is such an important charity that means a lot to me.” Watch The Feel Bad Four
Actress and 2014 Strictly Come Dancing competitor Sunetra has supported Sightsavers for several years. “My family originally comes from Kolkata and on my visits to India I am always aware of the huge differences between the standard of living here in the UK and in India,” says Sunetra. “Without the miracles performed by charities like Sightsavers, those in India who lose their sight are also likely to lose their livelihoods, forcing them and their family into greater poverty. To me, being able to give someone their sight back is miraculous.”
The British photographer and director first became involved with Sightsavers by shooting the campaign photo for Sightsavers’ celebrity glasses auction ‘Specs Appeal’ in 2008. In 2012 he shot a short film for us, The Feel Bad Four, starring James Corden.
Rankin is passionate about the work Sightsavers does, and says: “What is most upsetting is that so much [blindness] is treatable, and people suffer unnecessarily.” Most recently, Rankin photographed celebrities including musician Gaz Coombes and director Tom Hooper for Sightsavers’ Put Us in the Picture campaign.
Actor Nina pledged her support to Sightsavers and its Vision India Appeal after spending an evening ‘Dans le Noir’ (in the black) at a restaurant where visitors eat in complete darkness. Nina says of her involvement: “I’m honoured to become an ambassador for the charity and hope that I can help spread the word about the amazing work they do. A shocking number of people are living with blindness in India today, and for just a small amount of money we have the opportunity to completely transform someone’s life, forever.”
Paralympic gold medallist Kelly visited a Sightsavers-supported inclusive education project in Senegal in 2015. She described it as “a really amazing experience… hopefully one day all over Senegal children will be able to go to school”.
Kelly also supports Sightsavers’ Put Us in the Picture campaign, calling on world leaders to ensure people with disabilities aren’t left out in the fight against global poverty. Kelly to world leaders: leave no child behind
Irish actor, documentary maker and novelist Eoin travelled to Mozambique with Sightsavers in 2014 to make a documentary about our work treating people with cataracts. The experience showed him how life-changing cataract surgery can be.
“Being witness to the unbridled joy a person feels when they can actually see again, something I have always taken for granted, is a humbling experience that I will never forget,” he says. “Sightsavers not only gives back the invaluable gift of sight to people, it changes their lives, and the lives of their families and their communities.”
World champion judoka Ben has a rare genetic sight condition called Stargardt disease, which means he has no central vision (he can only see peripherally). “I wouldn’t be half the man I am today if it wasn’t for my sight condition,” he says. “Losing my sight was the best thing that ever happened to me as it made me a far more determined person, and I feel that it’s that and my work ethic that make me successful at my sport. I’ve learned that the reality of living with a disability in the developing world is often very different – disability can lead to a life of poverty and hardship. I feel passionately that this must change so people can have the same opportunities that I have had, which is why I support Sightsavers.”
TV and theatre actor Haydn became involved with our work in 2004, when she jumped at the chance to visit some of our programmes in India. In April 2010, Haydn visited Sierra Leone in West Africa to see how Sightsavers is working to address the country’s desperate shortage of eye care clinics and workers.
Haydn also supports our Put Us in the Picture campaign. “Through Sightsavers I have seen for myself the huge difference that can be made when children with disabilities are included in schools and educated alongside their peers,” she says. “It is inspiring and everyone benefits.”
Dr Dawn is resident doctor on ITV’s This Morning, and is a presenter on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies series. She is an ambassador for A Million Miracles, Sightsavers’ campaign to raise funds for a million sight-saving surgeries by 2018.
Dr Dawn helped to launch A Million Miracles at its London launch event by hosting a live link-up to Malawi as grandfather Winesi March had his sight-restoring cataract surgery broadcast online. She also fronted the Last Hour Pay Campaign as part of A Million Miracles, encouraging people to donate their last hour of pay for 2014 to the campaign.
In 2011, impressionist, actor and author Ronni took part in the BT Red Nose Desert Trek, an arduous 100km challenge in Kenya, with a group of other celebrities including Lorraine Kelly and Olly Murs. The trek raised more than £1.3 million for Sightsavers through Comic Relief.
Ronni is ‘thrilled’ to be a Sightsavers ambassador. “I look forward to helping the charity raise awareness of the work I witnessed in Kenya and in particular, how little it can cost. £8 can pay for an operation for someone with trachoma. For less than a round of drinks down the pub, Sightsavers can restore someone’s sight!”