Legendary explorer and endurance extraordinaire Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE was present at this week's launch for next month's Standard Chartered Great City Race. Sir Ranulph, who has climbed Everest and was the first man to visit the north and south poles by surface means, has signed up to be an ambassador for Seeing is Believing, the charity that is the official beneficiary of this year's race.
Seeing is Believing is a global initiative that tackles avoidable blindness. This year's Standard Chartered Great City Race takes place on Thursday, July 14. The unique 5km corporate team running challenge will see 6,500 City workers from over 350 firms taking to the streets of the square mile. The 5k challenge aims to improve the lives of 6,500 children in developing markets around the world through the provision of eye care.
Five kilometres is a relatively short distance, however the impact is significant with £5 from every runners' entry fee going directly to Seeing is Believing, which will be matched by Standard Chartered Bank. Teams are also being encouraged to help raise further funds for the initiative and Standard Chartered has pledged to match all donations pound for pound. With 90% of people with avoidable blindness living in low income countries all donations can have a major impact - £20 is enough to provide a sight-saving cataract operation.
Speaking at Monday's launch Sir Ranulph said: "The statistics around avoidable blindness are quite shocking. Of the 285 million people living with blindness and visual impairment in the world, 80% of cases could have been prevented, treated or cured. Tragically one child goes blind every minute and 60% of these will go on to die within a year. If a father goes blind then it's not just him who suffers, if he loses his job then the whole family will suffer. The heartening thing is that small measures can have a really significant impact and the funds raised through this year's race will help thousands of children."
Joining Sir Ranulph at the launch of the race was British Visually Impaired and Paralympic running legend Noel Thatcher MBE who has won 5 Paralympic gold medals and David Bedford, former 10,000m world record holder and race director of the Virgin London Marathon.
Also taking part in the launch was Standard Chartered CEO Europe Richard Holmes who said: "We're very proud of the work we do with Seeing is Believing and since we launched the initiative in 2003 we have helped raise over USD32 million and impacted more than 23 million people. However there is still a long way to go and we hope that everyone who is taking part in the race can use their participation to help raise awareness and funds for the cause."