HAYWARDS Heath-based development charity Sightsavers has celebrated 40 years in Sussex by releasing film unearthed from its archives.
The film reels, many of which are previously unseen, show how the charity has transformed the lives of thousands of blind and disabled people over the last four decades.
Last year, the charity approached film preservation and archiving specialists Screen Archive South East, based at the University of Brighton.
The charity enlisted their help transferring the film reels that had been discovered in the depths of Grosvenor Hall, the charity’s current headquarters.
The painstaking job of going through all the old reels was taken on by archivist Ine van Dooren, who spent many days examining and documenting the footage before it was conserved and digitised on DVD.
Today, (Decemebr 15), Ine presented the films to Lady Wilson, the widow of Sightsavers’ founder, the late Sir John Wilson, and Elaine Ireland, Head of Policy at the charity.
Watching the footage for the first time brought back some poignant memories for Lady Wilson.
She said: “I can remember when we first moved to Sussex back in December 1971 and the Queen opened our first headquarters in Heath Road before we moved to Grosvenor Hall.
“I am immensely proud that 40 years later Sightsavers is still in Sussex. Better still Sightsavers is now the county’s largest international charity and raises millions of pounds every year to help vital work in over 30 developing countries treating and curing preventable blindness.”
Elaine Ireland added: “2011 has been a momentous year for Sightsavers’ profile, which started when we were chosen as one of the charities to benefit from BBC Comic Relief and the BT Red Nose Day Desert Trek.
“Sussex has provided a wonderful home for us for the last 40 years and thanks to the help of Screen Archive we have the rare opportunity to reflect on how much has been achieved in this time. It makes me feel very proud and positive about the future.”
Pictured: Elaine Ireland, Ine van Dooren and Lady Wilson.