Staff share stories of meeting Countess of Wessex

11 May 2017


Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO visited Malawi in March to see how The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is fighting trachoma.

In 2014, when the initiative started, eight million people in Malawi were at risk. Today, thanks to the coordinated efforts and excellent progress of the Ministry of Health and partners supported by the Trust, no one in Malawi now need lose their sight to blinding trachoma.

The Countess, who is Vice Patron of the Trust, travelled to Kasungu district to see some of the projects being carried out with the Malawian Ministry of Health and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control.

Footage of her visit was screened during the BBC’s live broadcast of the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on 13 March. During the film, The Countess told viewers: “The Trachoma Initiative in Malawi has been having unbelievable success rates.”

The Trust works with Sightsavers, which implements the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative in Malawi. Members of Sightsavers staff share their stories from the royal visit.


Portrait of Sightsavers Helen Ashby.

Event Executive Helen Ashby
“I managed The Countess’s visit to see the work conducted by the Trachoma Initiative in Kasungu district in Malawi. It was an honour to manage such a high-profile event and a fantastic opportunity to showcase the hard work and dedication of all the partners involved in eliminating trachoma.

“Taking The Countess out in the field had its logistical challenges, but it was important for her to meet the people we reach in remote communities and to see first-hand the impact that the Trachoma Initiative has on people’s lives.”


Portrait of Sightsavers Roy Hauya.

Country Director Roy Hauya
“I was honoured to welcome The Countess and introduce her to some of the partners as she visited some of the projects that are being rolled out in Malawi with support from the Trust. There can never been better motivation to fight on.”


Portrait of Sightsavers Bright Chiwaula.

Senior Programme Manager Bright Chiwaula
“I was really excited but slightly nervous preparing for The Countess’s visit, but everyone really pulled together and it was a great success. Every participant at community and partner level worked really hard.

“I was invited to appear in the BBC film, and it was fantastic to be filmed by them. My challenge was to choose which activities would be featured, to ensure the film captured the impact that our programmes have on local people. Talking to the camera was like talking to the whole world – it made me feel on top of the world.

“I hope The Countess can visit Malawi again at the end of the project.”