It is estimated that over three million people become blind in India every year due to cataracts. For more than a decade, Cathelco has been involved with a project in Varanasi, formerly known as Benares, a city with a population of almost 1.5 million situated on the banks of the River Ganges in Northern India.
In 2016, a new hospital operated by Vision Varanasi was opened at a riverside site giving access to eye care for the local community where these services were not previously available.
Justin and Teifion Salisbury, together with their wives, were invited as guests to the opening celebrations. Outside the hospital the name William Salisbury, who founded Cathelco in 1956, appears on a commemorative plaque.
This is the culmination of work begun by Dr Ivor Wolfe, a retired optometrist from London, who went to Varanasi more than a decade ago and developed the idea for a fully-fledged eye hospital.
Over a number of years, Cathelco has contributed enough money to construct the hospital building. To grasp the scale of the problem, consider the fact that on one day alone, the health team checked over 450 patients of which 50 needed cataract operations, whilst 125 required treatment with eye drops or medicines and a further 200 were prescribed with glasses.
This has been made possible through the efforts of Dr V. Rajaram, the chief advisor and the support for Dr Badrinath who encouraged a distinguished eye surgeon, Dr Sunil Kumar Sah to work at the hospital. During his career, Dr Sah has performed over 100,000 cataract operations and has transplanted over 5,000 retinas.
Due to donations from companies such as Cathelco, the cost of the service to individual patients is assessed according to their finances. This means that patients receive care free of charge or for a nominal amount depending on their ability to pay. This model aims towards sustainability while still maintaining access for people from the poorest communities.
“Eye diseases are a major problem in India causing great discomfort and sometimes the loss of livelihood for people within the local community. We are delighted to have contributed to the funds which have made the hospital a reality”, said Justin Salisbury.
Over the years, Cathelco has sponsored a number of squash players, largely through the local connection with the Hallamshire Lawn Tennis and Squash Club which is based in Sheffield.
The latest rising star to wear a Cathelco sports shirt is Nick Wall, the under 17 European Squash Champion who lives in Sheffield.
In the past, Cathelco has been proud to sponsor Ashley Davis, formerly the British and European Junior Champion who is now ranked 111 in the world. In October 2016 Davies claimed his first ever World Tour title defeating Arthur Gaskin in the final of the Securian Open.
In 1990, Tracey Edwards MBE won worldwide attention when she led the first all-female crew to sail around the globe in the Whitbread Round the World challenge. Her yacht, Maiden, won two legs of the race and came second overall, the best result for a British boat since 1977 which has still not been beaten. Sadly, Tracey had to sell Maiden at the end of the race. However, 25 years later, the yacht was found in the Seychelles where she had been left to rot.
Cathelco are among the sponsors who have contributed to the rescue and restoration of the Maiden with the aim of returning her to the sea and making the vessel an International Ambassador for Girls Rights.
Phase One. Involved rescuing Maiden and bringing her home to the UK where she is undergoing a refit and will be returned to her former glory.
Phase Two. Maiden will become an Ambassador for Girls’ Rights touring first the UK and then the world during a three year programme.
The main objective is to draw attention to the plight of girls aged 5 to 15 in countries around the world where they do not receive a formal education. This will be achieved by working with policy makers in governments and by applying pressure through the media. It will also involve working closely with organisations such as The Girls Network, I Am Girl, UN Women and a number of others.