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Royal visitor meets sight saving researchers

Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Wessex, will today (Monday, August 17) meet researchers and fundraisers associated with one of Aberdeen’s most important medical research charities - Saving Sight in Grampian.

The charity is a local organisation and has developed into one of the leading eye research organisations in Scotland, with a worldwide reputation. Since the charity was established, it has raised over £2.5 million to help with research being conducted into sight threatening conditions. This amount has been achieved by donations locally, nationally and internationally supported by local newspapers and television.

Her Royal Highness will tour the University of Aberdeen's Ophthalmology Department and meet some of the scientists involved in world-leading research into eye disease funded by the charity.

The Countess of Wessex, accompanied by Aberdeen's Lord Provost Peter Stephen, will be welcomed to the Institute of Medical Sciences by Professor Sir Duncan Rice, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, Professor Neva Haites, Head of the College of Life Sciences and Medicine, Professor Mike Greaves, Head of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and Dr Iain Fraser, Chairman of Saving Sight in Grampian. 

Her Royal Highness will then meet Professor John Forrester, Cockburn Chair of Ophthalmology, who will guide her on a tour of the Eye Laboratory where she will meet senior scientists and researchers and be shown some of the equipment which has been provided by funding from the Saving Sight in Grampian charity.

The charity was set up in 1988 by retired Aberdeen solicitor Dr Iain Fraser specifically to support the work being undertaken by Professor Forrester and the Ophthalmology team.  It aims to secure the future of the Department and ensure its valuable work by the 30 strong research staff continues.

Professor Forrester and his team will provide demonstrations and explain about research being conducted into sight threatening conditions.

Her Royal Highness will also be taken to the Research Laboratory and will be shown some of the microscopy and imaging techniques used in Ophthalmology research.

Following the Ophthalmology tour, Her Royal Highness will be introduced to sponsors A C Yule & Son Ltd and the John Clark Motor Group, supporters and major donors of the Saving Sight in Grampian charity and will be entertained with music played by members of Aberdeen Strathspey and Reel Society.

Dr Iain Fraser, Chairman of Saving Sight in Grampian, said: "The Saving Sight in Grampian Team is delighted to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex to the Institute of Medical Sciences to meet with the researchers and hear about the very worthwhile research being conducted in the Ophthalmology Laboratory.

"There has been so much exciting and innovative research work being carried out by Professor John Forrester and his team of researchers.  The sole function and purpose of Saving Sight in Grampian's fundraising efforts has been to support Professor Forrester and his team and we are proud to have been able to fund so many projects, many of which are now not only benefiting local people but also worldwide in the diagnoses and treatment of eye disease."

Professor John Forrester, Cockburn Chair of Ophthalmology at the University of Aberdeen, said: "It is an absolute pleasure to welcome Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to the University of Aberdeen which is extremely grateful to Saving Sight in Grampian for the longstanding support it has provided.

"The Saving Sight in Grampian charity is highly regarded by the University because of the support the charity gives to our researchers who are investigating a wide range of eye diseases and are making a real difference locally, nationally and globally in their respective fields.  We are extremely pleased to be given the opportunity to explain to Her Royal Highness how the charity's investment is invaluable and to show her the work the Ophthalmology Team is involved in which is benefiting patients around the world."

Saving Sight in Grampian

"Saving Sight in Grampian" was founded in 1988 by Dr Iain Fraser, a retired solicitor, formerly a senior partner and latterly a consultant to Paull & Williamsons, Solicitors in Aberdeen.  A committee of 10 with a wide spectrum of interests has met on a regular basis and sponsorship has been provided at all events by the John Clark Motor Group and A C Yule & Son Ltd.  All monies ingathered go directly for research into the causes and treatment of blinding diseases of the eyes. Committee members act on a voluntary basis and are not recompensed for any outlays they incur. 

The Department of Ophthalmology is located within the University of Aberdeen's Institute of Medical Sciences on the Foresterhill site and was founded 20 years ago from charitable donations. From small beginnings, it has developed into the leading eye research organisation in Scotland and has a worldwide reputation. The work is carried out by a 30-strong research group headed by Professor John Forrester. The team includes several eye surgeons and basic science researchers whose energies are focused into discovering causes of blindness.

The Institute of Medical Sciences now houses around 350 personnel, comprising researchers, students and their support staff.  The Institute is in a unique position to translate the fruits of its research directly to patient care.


Issued on behalf of Saving Sight in Grampian by the University of Aberdeen, Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, King's College, Regent Walk. Contact: Angela Ferguson. Tel: (01224) 274136 / 07917086337.

Ref: 234savingsight

Date: August 17, 2009


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Monday 17th of August 2009

Ref: 234SavingSight
Contact: Angela Ferguson

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