A FRIENDLY chat on a plane over Africa three years ago sparked off a chain of events which it is hoped will culminate in raising money to offer Africans a simple operation which will restore their sight.
Sue and Richard Hey are the driving forces behind a Springtime Concert which will be held on May 9 (7.30pm) at St John’s Church in Lepton where the couple go to services.
Money raised by the concert will go to the church and to Eyes For East Africa which the Heys first heard about on holiday in Africa.
“We were on holiday in Kenya three years ago and while flying to Mombassa, we talked with fellow passenger Kadzo Nyota, said Sue.
“Kadzo was returning from a week in the bush with the Kwale District Eye Centre. A team from the centre had been operating on people who could not travel to Mombassa.”
The centre, on the Kenya coast, provides eye care for people in a poor, rural area half the size of Wales and with a population of about 500,000.
It was set up 15 years ago by Dr Helen Roberts, a UK ophthalmologist living in Kenya.
Fast forward to a chat that Sue and her 11 year old grandson Charlie, who lives in Oxford, were having about how to help other people and an idea took root.
“I remembered the huge value of the cataract team but wasn’t sure how to contact them. I asked friends Bob and Sally Lumley who live in Huddersfield about the charity because they have contacts in Kenya and by huge coincidence, they are close friends of Dr Helen Roberts who runs the centre,” said Sue.
That kind of coincidence seemed to suggest a must for Sue, Richard, Charlie and their family and friends to get involved in a fundraising event for the centre. And that’s what will happen at St John’s next weekend with concert proceeds shared with the church.
As Sue points out, a simple operation, performed in temporary premises, can restore a person’s sight and that is part of the crucial work that the Kwale District Eye Centre is doing.
In addition to treatment for patients with cataracts or glaucoma, the centre supports community programmes to combat Vitamin A deficiency, responsible for blindness in some children, and to help those with impaired vision or hearing.
Richard, immediate past president of Huddersfield Light Opera Company, has used his musical contacts to bring together some of the best known singers in the area who should ensure that next Saturday’s Springtime Concert is a memorable one.
Individually, Richard Cook, Diane Robinson and Norman Mellor are three of the area’s best known singing talents.
Add the skills of pianist Geoff Bottomley and you have Reflections, a quartet who are in great demand for their musical gifts.
To those talents add a surprise guest and the stage is set for an entertaining evening and a fundraising event which has the potential to change people’s lives.
For tickets (£6, concessions £5) call Richard and Sue on 01484 603211, Jennie Boothroyd on 01484 306692, or go to Fenay Bridge Stores. For more about the charity, go to www.eyesforeastafrica.org.