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Sightsavers trustee Sir Chris Whitty knighted in New Year Honours

January 2022

Professor Chris Whitty, who has been a Sightsavers trustee since 2017, has been knighted for his role in tackling COVID-19.

Sir Chris is the chief medical officer for England, and has regularly briefed the nation in televised press conferences during the pandemic.

He joined Sightsavers’ board in 2017 and has since helped guide the organisation through a period of growth in our work to protect sight, eliminate debilitating diseases and fight for disability rights.

Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper said: “It is hard to think of anyone more deserving of this honour than Chris: he has been a fabulous source of both support and inspiration to all at Sightsavers. His knowledge of infectious diseases, his emphasis on data and evidence for decision-making and his brilliant communication skills have all been great assets for Sightsavers and, of course, in the past two years have proved invaluable to the nation as a whole.

“He is the epitome of a true public servant and mixes modesty and kindness with the sharpest intelligence and most formidable brain I think I have ever known. Congratulations, Sir Chris!”

An epidemiologist and physician, he was previously professor of public and international health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and is an expert in international public health and infectious diseases.

In 2014 he played a leading role in the UK effort on Ebola, when he held the post of chief scientific adviser at the Department for International Development. Alongside his other government roles, Sir Chris is also head of the National Institute for Health Research.

Sir Chris’s knighthood follows several other honours given to Sightsavers staff. Chairman Sir Clive Jones was knighted in 2020 for his humanitarian work, while Caroline Harper was appointed a CBE in 2015 in recognition of her services to people with visual impairments, and director Dom Haslam was awarded an OBE in 2019 for his disability rights work.

Professor Christopher Whitty.

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