Congratulations to Mark Esbester who has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours on the 28th December for his incredible support to Vision Aid Overseas over the years.

Vision Aid Overseas are delighted at the news that our long-standing volunteer, Mark Esbester, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours as announced on the 28th December 2018. Mark has been a supporter of Vision Aid Overseas for over 13 years and has taken part, often as a team leader, in over 20 volunteer assignments during that time.


Mark’s first overseas volunteer assignment was in 2005 to Uganda. In 2008, after just two assignments he trained to be a team leader and to date, has volunteered on 25 assignments across many countries including Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso.

Currently, Vision Aid Overseas works with UK optical volunteers to help establish sustainable and affordable eye care services across 4 African countries. Volunteers like Mark, use their skills to train local eye care workers and university students so that they get the practical skills needed to successfully care for their patients. They also help to establish Vision Centres when needed and deliver outreach services to some of the most isolated communities.

Alongside this, Mark gives up his time to help train new Vision Aid Overseas volunteers team leaders on our Volunteer and Team Leader Development Programme Days in the UK, as well as fundraising and giving talks on behalf of our charity.

Andy Holliday, Director of Fundraising for Vision Aid Overseas said:

“Last year the teams which Mark either led or deputised for examined 2,310 patients, dispensed 1,683 pairs of spectacles and delivered 310 hours of training.  It is very hard to estimate the number of patients the optical trainees overseas, taught by Vision Aid Overseas volunteers like Mark, will see in their working life time but it is likely to be tens of thousands. In a world where an estimated 1.2 billion people can’t see properly simply because they need glasses, Mark and many other Vision Aid Overseas optical volunteers like him are helping to make a huge impact on the lives and livelihoods of some of the world’s most marginalised people”