Our Patron and Vice Presidents
Our patron and vice presidents take a lead role in promoting the Vision Foundation in their local communities. They regularly host events that raise funds and awareness to support people with sight loss. We are very grateful for the continued kindness of our patron and vice presidents, and proud to have such a committed group of supporters.
HRH The Countess of Wessex
HRH The Countess of Wessex became the Patron of the Vision Foundation in 2003 taking over the patronage of the charity from The Queen Mother. As the Patron of more than 70 charities and organisations Her Royal Highness undertakes hundreds of visits to schools, universities, military bases and charity headquarters each year in order to learn more about their work, and to highlight it to the wider world. The Countess of Wessex has a wide range of interests which include supporting people with disabilities, the prevention of blindness in developing countries, agriculture and fashion.
Cherie Blair CBE, QC
Cherie Blair is a leading barrister with over 35 years’ experience. She studied law at the London School of Economics (LSE) and is the Founder and Chair of the pioneering law firm Omnia Strategy where she focuses on cross-border dispute resolution, commercial arbitration, mediation and human rights. Cherie has represented over 30 countries as well as dozens of multinationals.
She is a strong advocate for women’s rights and in 2008 she founded the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, to promote the financial independence of women in low and middle income countries. Since then, the Foundation has had a significant and measurable impact on the lives of more than 140,000 women entrepreneurs in 105 countries especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
In 2013, she was awarded the CBE in the New Year Honours for her services to women’s issues and to charity in the UK and overseas. Cherie is also an active campaigner on equality and human rights issues and is committed to changing society so that disabled people and their families can have the same opportunities as everyone else. As such she is a long-standing supporter of the Vision Foundation and has served as Vice-President for over a decade.
Cherie has published three non-fiction books including her bestselling autobiography “Speaking for Myself”. Cherie is wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and they have four children and two grandchildren.
Sir Rocco Forte
Sir Rocco Forte FCA, FIoD is one of the Vision Foundation’s longest standing Vice Presidents and is passionate about our work in saving sight and changing lives. Sir Rocco is CEO and Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels. Son of the late Lord Charles Forte, Sir Rocco founded the luxury hotel company in 1996. At present, the company operates hotels in key European destinations such as London, Edinburgh, Brussels, Florence, Rome, Sicily, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin and St. Petersburg. Sir Rocco was knighted in December 1994 for services to the UK tourism industry and received the highest Italian accolade, the Gran Croce dell’Ordine al Merito della Republicca Italiana, for his entrepreneurial merits and strong links with Italy in 2005. A keen sportsman and long distance runner, Sir Rocco has completed several marathons raising significant amounts for charity. His other interests include shooting and golf.
The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH
Sir John entered the House of Commons in 1979, and Government in 1983. He joined the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1987; was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in July 1989; and Chancellor of the Exchequer in October 1989.
Sir John was appointed Prime Minister on November 28, 1990 and served in that position until May 1997. As Prime Minister, Sir John focused his efforts upon securing peace in Northern Ireland and upholding Britain’s position in the world community as a political, social and economic leader. He was Prime Minister throughout the first Gulf War and, at home, instigated long-term reforms in education, health and public services.
Sir John retired from Parliament at the UK General Election in May 2001. His business interests include Senior Advisor to Credit Suisse; and Chairman of the Advisory Board of Global Infrastructure Management. He chairs the Campaign Board of King’s London; is a Joint President of Chatham House; and Patron or President of a number of UK and international charities.
In October 2011, Sir John was appointed Chairman of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, a Commonwealth-wide initiative which was established to create a lasting legacy to Her Majesty’s 60 years as Sovereign.
On New Year’s Day 1999, HM The Queen appointed Sir John a Companion of Honour in recognition of his initiation of the Northern Ireland Peace Process; and on St George’s Day 2005, a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. In 2012, he was awarded The Grand Cordon of The Rising Sun by The Emperor of Japan.