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Reflecting back on the 2020 Eye Health Hero Programme

Published: 11.08.2021
Rachael Bourke Membership Services Manager

As the 2020 Eye Health Heroes programme ends, we look back on the past year that has had so many highlights.  

In partnership with Allergan, an AbbVie company, we launched the programme with IAPB Global Ambassador HRH The Countess of Wessex at an online meeting with three previous 2019 Eye Health Heroes to hear about their experiences and the impact of COVID-19 on their work. The launch attracted media attention worldwide and we received the largest number of nominations than ever before, and from more countries than ever.  

After the winners had been confirmed, we hosted a prestigious virtual awards ceremony that recognised and celebrated a staggering 54 young leaders across 29 countries from a diverse range of professions and backgrounds. The excited winners were presented the awards by senior figures from within the sector and had the opportunity to talk about their work and what winning the award meant to them.  

Following this, on World Sight Day, we were honoured to be joined by Her Majesty the Queen and the Countess of Wessex on a video call with three Heroes which provided a rare opportunity for the Queen to hear about the work that the Eye Health Heroes do and the importance of good eye health for all.  

The Heroes then embarked on a year- long development programme that started with Communications and PR training delivered by senior specialists at Allergan.  They also attended invitation only events with influential guest speakers at our exclusive Eye Inspire meetings. These online sessions were an opportunity for the Heroes to hear from Key Opinion Leaders about their journeys into their leadership positions and the challenges they faced along the way. The Heroes also had the chance to ask questions to the guests and hear about their personal stories as well as receiving insight and guidance.  

Throughout the year, the Heroes have written blogs which we have published across our channels, highlighting their work and what the development programme means to them, as well as writing content for important days and initiatives including Focus On Glaucoma and China Sight Day. Some have also been invited to take part in external events both globally and regionally.  

Internally, we have organised advocacy and knowledge sessions with the Heroes and have invited them to join an Eye Health Hero LinkedIn group which is a forum for discussions, making connections and receiving updates from us on upcoming activities.  

Although we are coming to the end of the 2020 programme, we will stay connected to our Heroes and will continue to build an alum of young leaders who are the voices of the sector. We look forward to receiving this year’s nominations and welcoming the 2021 Eye Health Heroes to this inspirational network of people.  

We would like to thank all our guests for taking part: Caroline Harper, CEO, Sightsavers; Jag Dosanjh, Senior Vice President Medical Therapeutics, Abbvie; Professor Tien Wong, Medical Director, Singapore National Eye Centre; H.E Dr Walton A Webson, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations; Ciku Mathenge, Director, Rwanda International Institute of Ophthalmology and Medical Adviser, Orbis International; James Chen, Philanthropist and Founder, Clearly; Jane Barratt, Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing.