Henry Wyndham, Sothebys
Senior auctioneer and European Chairman, will swap the rostrum for some of Britains toughest terrain in May, as he undertakes the 190 mile Coast to Coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire in aid of the charity ORBIS.
Henry Wyndham said: I was involved in a rather serious shooting accident last August, in which I came very close to losing the sight in both my eyes. Had I not been wearing my glasses, I would have definitely been blinded forever. I was fortunate that my sight was not damaged.
The experience really brought home to me how challenging life must be for those without the gift of sight and, in particular, those who are blind but dont need to be. As a result I have decided to raise funds for a remarkable sight-saving charity called ORBIS. For every £10 I raise, one person who is suffering from a form of curable blindness will have his or her sight restored. I hope my walk will raise awareness for this remarkable charity, and will encourage people to give generously to help ORBIS continue with its invaluable work.*
In the world today 39 million people in the world are blind, 1.5 million are children. Unfortunately, the vast majority of blind people live in developing countries, where eye care services are often unavailable or unaffordable. As a result, many children and adults go blind even though they suffer from treatable or preventable causes. On top of a massive personal loss, blinding conditions also have an enormous economic impact on developing countries through loss of productivity.
Since 1982 ORBISs medical volunteers have visited over 90 countries and trained over 300,000 doctors and nurses. As a result over 23 million people have been medically and surgically treated. ORBIS exists to tackle the issue of avoidable blindness through training local medical teams to provide them with the skills and equipment they need to treat blindness in their communities. They send the worlds leading ophthalmic medical experts to developing countries, either on-board their unique Flying Eye Hospital or directly to local hospitals, to deliver the best possible training for local doctors and nurses.
With 30 years of experience as a global leader in eye care, ORBIS is uniquely qualified to address the problem of unnecessary vision loss among children and adults. They currently have programmes in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and China. Their Flying Eye Hospital also provides 7-8 training programmes each year around the world.
Auctions taken by Henry Wyndham have been described as the pink gin of the genre, a swiftly enjoyable occasion. With almost 40 years experience in the art market, the fall of his hammer has marked many of the most exciting moments in art market history, including the sale of Giacomettis Walking Man sculpture which sold for $104 million in 2010, at the time the most expensive artwork ever auctioned.
Henrys unrivalled reputation as auctioneer has transcended the art world, permeating popular culture through his blockbuster Hollywood and literary appearances. He appeared on the rostrum in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and in print he has not only been profiled and quoted the world over, he has also featured in Jilly Coopers classic novel Pandora. Cooper depicts Wyndham relaxing "in a deep, English Fern-scented bath", practicing the bidding increments before the sale of a Raphael. He also appeared regularly as a valuation specialist in the popular BBC Television programme The Antiques Roadshow. Today, as Sothebys European Chairman he leads client and business development activities as well as serving as Senior Auctioneer.
Rebecca Cronin, Regional Director of ORBIS EMEA said: Mr Wyndhams efforts to raise vital funds for ORBIS by taking part in the Coast-to-Coast Walk, means that we will be able to give the gift of sight to thousands more people in developing countries. As well as the money raised, Mr Wyndham and Sothebys are introducing our sight-saving work to a great number of people to help us raise awareness around the injustice of preventable blindness.