BBC Lifeline Appeal

In these challenging times, your support is more important now than ever

Retina UK Ambassador Bhavini Makwana being filmed for the BBC Lifeline appeal along with Colin the guide dog

The Retina UK BBC Lifeline Appeal aired on BBC1 and BBC2 in July 2020. It gave us an amazing opportunity to not only raise vital funds – particularly important during challenging times – but also to raise awareness and to highlight the challenges faced by the inherited sight loss community and the vital work that Retina UK does.

We are so grateful to everyone who watched the appeal and made donations. Almost 900,000 people watched the televised broadcasts, and more than £35,000 was raised – a fantastic amount! If you missed it, you can watch it again here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000l9yb

About the appeal

The appeal was hosted by Amar Latif who has long been a supporter of the charity. Amar lives with retinitis pigmentosa but hasn’t let it stop him travelling the world and founding Traveleyes. He is appearing in Celebrity MasterChef 2020 in July.

The other members of our community featured in the appeal are our Ambassador, Bhavini Makwana, Russ Stephenson, who was part of the panel at our ‘Experts by experience’ slot at the Professionals’ Conference in 2019 and the Kearney family who have two children living with retinitis pigmentosa and have actively fundraised for us for several years.

Our appeal focused on the immediate need for information and support for those living with inherited sight loss conditions. It referenced the practical and emotional support we offer, which brings people together to share information, hints and tips and to offer a supportive listening ear. These connections are invaluable. Some members of our community choose to give back by becoming helpline volunteers, peer support group leaders and completing fundraising challenges.

The appeal also demonstrated the importance of research. Frustratingly, just one percent of national funding is invested in eye research. We know that 260 faulty genes have been identified and yet there is currently only one treatment available for one of these faulty genes.

Research is enormously expensive and Retina UK has committed £16.5 million into cutting-edge projects since we were founded in 1976.

There is so much more to do and we hope that other therapies will soon be discovered for a range of inherited retinal dystrophies and made available on the NHS. This is only possible if we continue to fund this vital work.