Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra visited staff at Haywards Heath charity Sightsavers, in its 65th anniversary, to congratulate them on their hard work.
The first cousin to HRH Queen Elizabeth II and President of Sightsavers, met staff and cut a celebratory cake before discussing the charity’s work with more than 100 members of staff.
Her Royal Highness, when addressing staff said: “May I thank you for asking me here today? Without you the charity would not be in the strong position it is today. Your work is extremely important and I would like to thank you very much for all that you do. Good luck for the future”.
Sightsavers CEO, Caroline Harper, said: “It is an honour to host Her Royal Highness, who has been President of Sightsavers for 55 years. HRH Princess Alexandra has done an incredible job raising awareness of avoidable blindness in developing countries and her commitment will have made a difference to millions of people in some of the poorest parts of the world where organisations like Sightsavers work.”
Debbie Hurp, HR assistant at the charity, said HRH spent several minutes talking to her and her team.
“She said she was impressed with the pictures on the walls and how sparkly the people’s eye were and how happy the people looked.
“She was very observant. She even noticed that there were a lot of plants around the office and when she saw one didn’t have leaves she told us she could give us some tips on how to help it keep its leaves.”
Sam Raju, HR manager, said: “She asked if the photos on the walls inspire us.
“She comes across as very warm and personable.”
Tom Morton, digital and print designer, said HRH asked him how long he had been working for the charity and he told her it was his third day.
“She asked ‘how are the people treating you’ and I said ‘very well’.”
Over the past 65 years Sightsavers has supported over 576 million treatments for blinding and potentially blinding conditions and over eight million operations to restore sight. It has also changed the lives of thousands of people who are visually impaired through advocacy, education and training.
HRH was told about the eight million sight-restoring operations the organisation has carried out in the past 65 years since it was founded.
Staff also informed her about the work they have done to prevent and cure blindness and support those who are visually impaired in more than 30 developing countries around the world.
Caroline Harper said: “It’s a proud year for Sightsavers and an opportunity for us to pause and celebrate our staff around the world working tirelessly to change lives and prevent disease.
“Their dedication and expertise is having a lasting impact in some of the world’s poorest countries – we couldn’t have achieved so much without the generosity of our donors and the ongoing support of HRH Princess Alexandra.”
Martin Dinham, Sightsavers vice chair of trustees, introduced HRH to staff before asking her to cut their celebratory cake.
He said: “It is a really great honour to be able to welcome you to our splendid new building here at Sightsavers.”
“I was very fortunate to acompany you to the Middle East last year where I saw, at first hand, the difference you were able to make with establishing partnerships and helping us to find financing possibilities. We were grateful to you for the time you devoted to that but also the genuine passion and the interest you showed.”
Local dignitaries at the event included Harry Goring, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Denise Patterson, the High Sheriff of West Sussex and Councillor Peter Reed Chairman of Mid Sussex District Council.