Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Nearly Losing My Sight Was an Epiphany. I Knew I Had to Do Something'; SOTHEBY'S STAR AUCTIONEER HENRYWYNDHAM TELLS HOW SURVIVING A SHOOTING ACCIDENT HELPED TO CHANGE HIS LIFE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Nearly Losing My Sight Was an Epiphany. I Knew I Had to Do Something'; SOTHEBY'S STAR AUCTIONEER HENRYWYNDHAM TELLS HOW SURVIVING A SHOOTING ACCIDENT HELPED TO CHANGE HIS LIFE

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlotte Metcalf and Benedict Moore-Bridger

ILLUSTRIOUS auctioneer and chairman of Sotheby's Europe Henry Wyndham is aiming to raise [pounds sterling]1 million for an eye charity after almost going blind in a grouse shooting accident.

Old Etonian Wyndham, 59, also a valuation specialist on the BBC's The Antiques Roadshow, nearly lost the sight of his right eye when he was hit by 52 lead pellets after a gun was accidentally fired in his direction. Wyndham, immortalised as the auctioneer in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, was airlifted to hospital following the incident last August on a hired estate in Scotland on a shoot organised by American hedge-fund manager Louis Bacon, 57.

His glasses lens smashed into his eye but protected it from the pellets.

Initially Wyndham thought he'd gone blind, later describing the moment he realised he could see as "an epiphany or second chance".

He received extensive plastic surgery -- some pellets remain in his face -- and was later introduced by his surgeon to Dr Brian Little, an ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, who told him about his work as a volunteer for Orbis, a charity dedicated to preserving and restoring sight in developing countries. It works globally, providing spectacles and treating cataracts and trachoma, a highly contagious disease that can lead to trachisis and ultimately blindness, when the eyelids invert so that the lashes damage the cornea. A simple operation, costing just [pounds sterling]10, can cure it.

The charity has a DC10 plane converted into an eye hospital, with a surgery in the fuselage and a lecture room for teaching local people.

The 6ft 7in Wyndham decided on a sponsored walk to raise money and teamed up with his friend, Guy, Duke of Roxburghe, who was recovering from cancer and also seeking a way of expressing his gratitude by donating to a cancer charity.

Last May they walked together 190 miles across Britain from St Bee's in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire to raise money.

Wyndham said: "When I was sure that my eye was intact it was like winning the lottery 10 times over. I'd been thinking about having laser surgery but if I had, I wouldn't have been wearing glasses and would probably have lost my sight. I was determined to give something back and Orbis seemed the right charity from the start. Brian is a superstar, the way he volunteers his time to save people's sight and he convinced me that my money would go straight into the eye-saving operations that Orbis carry out round the world.

"I'm very glad Guy was with me as he was the navigator and if I'd done the walk on my own I might have ended up in Cornwall. He was very efficient, like Captain Mainwaring to my Pike."

Wyndham wrote 1,357 letters asking people to sponsor his walk. "I didn't write a single letter to anyone I didn't know," he said. …

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