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The staff of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ would like to nominate Andrew Bell, former Executive Director. Andrew (who left The Foundation earlier this year) was with the organisation for ten years, eight of which as our leader. He contributed significantly to improving eye care across the Pacific through his passionate, driven and inspiring leadership and just as the legendary Kiwi eye doctor, the late Professor Fred Hollows did, he achieved the impossible.

He partnered with Pacific governments to build eye clinics in places where people said it was not possible and he encouraged sustainable solutions within clinic builds by incorporating solar energy and water tank systems. He worked with people throughout the Pacific and NZ to ensure funds were available to purchase much-needed medical equipment for our graduates. These funds also ensured that medical consumables and spectacles were available in Pacific eye clinics.

He attended the graduations of our nurse and doctor students and delighted in their achievements of becoming trained eye specialists. He empowered our Pacific Leaders, encouraged localisation and led us all on our journey to end avoidable blindness in the Pacific.

He grew relationships with donors which ensured their ongoing support for the future. He empowered the leadership team to build a highly reputable organisation and enabled reserves to grow by over five-fold, ensuring the availability of much-needed funding for future eye care programmes and clinic builds.

Andrew was loved by all who had the fortune to meet him, with irresistible energy and passion, a clear vision and unshakeable commitment. A wonderful public speaker, he was able to bring others along in pursuit of the organisation’s vision of a world in which no person is needlessly blind or vision impaired.

No problem was ever too big and no challenge ever insurmountable. He, like Fred, always found a way to overcome the issues, whether that required going around, over, under or through the mountain, and he did it in such a way that all who followed him, believed in him. That is the sign of a great leader, someone who developed an incredible culture where we all respect one another, our diversity, our collaborative talents and where we all live and breathe our shared vision.

His leadership and vision helped steer The Foundation to achieve over 900,000 eye consultations, nearly 75,000 eye surgeries and 300 eye graduates throughout the Pacific. Working in partnership with Pacific governments, Andrew also oversaw the establishment of the Pacific Eye Institute and Mobile Eye Clinic in Fiji, the Regional Eye Centre in Solomon Islands, the refurbishment and construction of a new operating theatre at the Madang Eye Clinic in Papua New Guinea, and the upgrade and expansion of the National Eye Centre in Vanuatu.

Andrew’s only regret was having to leave his beloved Foundation too early due to ill health. As he always said, “to me, it never felt like work, because I was doing something that I loved”. He was a truly inspirational leader who left his mark in eye care in the Pacific.