Patron and Ambassadors
The Eye Surgeons’ Foundation is supported by a team of committed and passionate advocates for eye health. His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter John Cosgrove AK, MC, in his position as Patron of The Eye Surgeons’ Foundation is joined by a number of Foundation Ambassadors, led by Kirk Pengilly, INXS guitarist/saxophonist.
By supporting community awareness campaigns such as JulEYE our Ambassadors help us to educate the community about the need to maintain eye health.
A graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Sir Peter Cosgrove fought in the Vietnam War, receiving the Military Cross in 1971. From 1983 to 1984, he was commander of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR), and he later served as commander of the 6th Brigade and the 1st Division. Cosgrove rose to prominence in 1999, when he served as commander of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), which oversaw the peacekeeping mission in East Timor during its transition to independence.
Sir Peter Cosgrove was Australia's Chief of Army from 2000 to 2002, and then Chief of the Defence Force from 2002 to 2005, receiving corresponding promotions to lieutenant general and general. He retired from active service following the end of his term as Chief of the Defence Force, and subsequently served as leader of a taskforce helping to rebuild communities in Queensland after Cyclone Larry in 2006. In January 2014, he was named to succeed Dame Quentin Bryce as Governor-General of Australia. He was sworn in on 28 March 2014, and made a Knight of the Order of Australia on the same date.
Sir Peter Cosgrove joined The Eye Surgeons’ Foundation in 2014 as Patron.
Kirk Pengilly is best known as the guitarist, saxophonist and principal backing vocalist of iconic Australian rock band, INXS. He is also well known and recognised for wearing his trademark black thick-rimmed glasses. However, his trademark glasses represent far more than a trendy fashion statement. For Kirk, eyesight is a gift to be cherished of which he is reminded daily. “I’ve worn glasses almost all my life. I don't wear them because they make me look cool – I have to wear them to see clearly as I am long-sighted”.
Kirk was in his 20s and touring with INXS when he almost lost his sight to severe glaucoma. Waking up one morning after a show with excruciating pain in his eyes and unable to open them, Kirk was fast-tracked to a pioneering Australian ophthalmologist who quickly treated his deteriorating sight with laser surgery in both eyes to prevent further damage.
Passionate about eye health and uncovering the causes of eye disease, Kirk became an ambassador for The Eye Surgeons' Foundation in 2007 and every year since has thrown his support behind the annual JulEYE campaign.
In 2014, Kirk was consulted for input during the filming of Australian miniseries INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, which documents the band’s rise to stardom and Kirk’s character, naturally, is seen sporting his trademark glasses.
More recently, Kirk and his wife, Australian surfing legend, Layne Beachley renewed their wedding vows amongst their closest friends and family – a big moment, Kirk said, he certainly wouldn't want to miss seeing.
Kirk is passionate about eye health and encouraging Australians to discuss their family’s eye health to find out if there is a genetic history of eye disease in their family. Even if they haven’t noticed changes to their vision, people should still have an eye check, and if necessary see an ophthalmologist this JulEYE. “The thing about eye disease is you can have it and not know you’ve got it until it’s too late,” says Kirk. “I’m really pleased to be an Ambassador for The Eye Surgeons' Foundation again this year. I look forward to helping The Eye Surgeons' Foundation raise funds for research, and getting the message out to everyone about the importance of having your eyes checked.”
Professor Ron McCallum is one of Australia’s most respected lawyers and prominent human rights advocates. Born ten weeks premature and weighing only three pounds he was diagnosed with Retrolental Fibroplasia, which at the time was treated in a “Humidicrib” with uncontrolled oxygen levels and resulted in the permanent loss of his sight.
Professor McCallum has led a successful career as a legal academic and teacher, becoming the first totally blind person appointed to a full professorship at any Australasian university, in 1993. An expert in labour law, he has served as Professor and Dean of Law at Sydney University and in 2011, was awarded the honour of Senior Australian of the Year. He was an inaugural member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from 2009 to 2014, and he served as its Chairperson from 2010 to 2013. He is a director on the boards of Vision Australia, of Ability First Australia, and of Foresight Australia. In February 2014, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Macquarie University, during a graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Business and Economics. In August 2013, he was sworn in as a member of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
In 2014, Professor Ron McCallum joined The Eye Surgeons' Foundation as an Ambassador to urge Australians to not take their eyesight for granted and this year his determination to prevent unnecessary vision loss has seen him throw his support behind the 2014 JulEYE campaign: “The gift of sight is indeed precious. I wish to assist the RANZCO Eye Foundation to encourage everyone to safeguard their own and their family’s vision,” he says.
JulEYE is aimed at educating Australians about eye disease and this year is encouraging everyone to discuss their family’s eye health to find out if there is a genetic history of eye disease in their family. Even if they haven’t noticed changes to their vision, people should still have an eye check, and if necessary see an ophthalmologist this JulEYE.
For the past decade virtuoso guitarist, author and motivational speaker, Lorin Nicholson has been wowing crowds and sharing his amazing life experiences and inspirational messages with thousands throughout Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
Born with Retinitis pigmentosa, Lorin was declared legally blind at the age of four, yet he and his parents were determined not to let his disability exclude him from leading a full and meaningful life. He has run two highly successful businesses, one as a Remedial Therapist, where he treated over 30,000 clients from outback farmers to Olympic athletes. Now he tours the country and the world as one of Australia’s preeminent keynote speakers.
As one of Australia’s highest-selling independent artists Lorin’s fourth album titled “Strings Of Thunder” has recently landed him the prestigious award as producer of the year at the Australian Celtic Music Awards. He has also this year been listed on the NSW Premiers reading challenge, for his best-selling inspirational children’s book “The Amazing Bike Ride.
Lorin has also made many radio, press and TV appearances including 60 Minutes and Vision Australia's annual Carols By Candlelight. In 2009 Lorin was honoured as an Australian of the Year nominee and in 2010 he and his younger brother Dean created Australian history, becoming the first blind persons to ride over 4000 kilometres across Australia from Perth to Sydney.
Passionate about eye health, Lorin became an Ambassador for The Eye Surgeons' Foundation in 2011 and is again supporting the 2016 JulEYE campaign.
“As a person who has struggled with extremely low vision my entire life, I fully appreciate how miraculous and wonderful the gift of sight is in our lives. The amazing work of our eye surgeons and specialists has given me much hope in preserving what little sight I’ve had in the past, and now gives me even greater hope for restoring my sight in the future. The RANZCO Eye Foundation’s vision is more than simply preserving eyesight, it’s about giving all Aussie’s the best possible opportunity for maintaining and improving our quality of life,” says Lorin.
As part of JulEYE 2016, Lorin is hoping to raise greater awareness of the importance of eye health and encourage Australians to discuss their family’s eye health history to find out if there is a genetic history of eye disease in their family. Even if they haven’t noticed changes to their vision, people should still have an eye check, and if necessary see an ophthalmologist this JulEYE.