Media Centre - Spokespeople

Here at Orbis we have a range of spokespeople who can provide you with expert comment on eye health, international development, the charity sector and more.


ALLAN THOMPSON - Director of External Relations

Allan is our Director of External Relations, overseeing the management of Orbis UK’s fundraising and communications teams. Allan joined the charity in 2010 and since then has devised, instigated and implemented successful fundraising     campaigns. Over the last few years Orbis UK has transformed its approach to fundraising, resulting in doubling our income:  from £2.9M in 2010 to over £7M for the first time in 2016.

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PETER HICKSON - Orbis UK Chairman

Peter has been a supporter of Orbis for almost 20 years, becoming a trustee in 2008 and more recently Chairman of Orbis UK in March 2015. From 2010 to 2013, he was also Treasurer of Orbis International in New York.

Peter is a Chartered Accountant by profession chairman of  Communisis plc and senior independent director of Coalfield Resources plc. He has served leading roles in several high profile UK companies including Scottish Power, Powergen, Marconi Corporation and RAC plc.





REBECCA CRONIN—Orbis UK CEO and Regional Director of Orbis Europe Middle East and Africa

Rebecca Cronin has worked in the not-for-profit sector for 25 years in roles spanning fundraising, donor relations, communication and public relations, grants administration, programme design and implementation, and senior management/board membership.

Heading the Moscow-based office of the Charities Aid Foundation during the collapse of the Soviet Union and seeing the devastating effect of state failure on security, health and livelihoods was a formative experience. 

She joined Orbis in 2007, becoming Regional Director of Orbis Europe, Middle East and Africa in 2010.


ROB WALTERS - Volunteer Ophthalmologist and  trustee

Rob Walters is a consultant ophthalmologist, working in the National health Service (NHS) for over 30 years. He became an Orbis medical volunteer in 1994, participating in our training programmes in Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar, Sudan and Vietnam.

Rob has played key roles in numerous UK eye health organisations and authored three books on the causes and treatment of blindness. Rob joined the Orbis UK board in June 2003 and served as chairman from 2008-2015. In 2014, he was   honoured with the title of Trustee of the Year at the Charity Staff and Volunteer Awards, for his dedication to improving eye health globally. Rob is also an Orbis International Emeritus and is chairman of Orbis Africa.

During his tenure, Rob oversaw a significant increase in the number of people we help and our expansion into additional countries.  In March 2015, Rob won the Trustee of the Year title at the Charity Staff and Volunteer Awards for his hard work and dedication.


DAVID BENNETT —  Head of Programme Suport

David Bennett, our Head of Programme Support, has more than twelve years’ experience of delivering and supporting development and humanitarian programmes in the Health, WASH and FSAL sectors across a range of organisations.

During his ten years at Oxfam, David spent more than two years based in Northern Uganda as Programme Manager, leading a 50-strong field team through a significant period of change, as the context moved from humanitarian recovery to development. Before joining Orbis, David was based at Merlin as Head of International Programmes, and was part of the team that steered the organisation through a merger with Save the Children UK.




KATH BACKHOUSE — Director of Finance and Operations

A qualified accountant, Kath Backhouse has 14 years’ experience in the charity sector, having worked for a number of medical research charities and a charity providing support for people with sight loss. Most recently Kath worked for The Eve Appeal as Finance Director.

Before entering the world of not for profit, Kath worked in businesses owned by some of the UK’s most renowned entrepreneurs: Anita Roddick, Terence Conran and Richard Branson.





ANN-MARIE ABLETT  - Volunteer Nurse and Orbis Ambassador

Ann-Marie is one of our most prolific volunteers. She has been on 30 volunteer assignments with Orbis since 2003 and uses her holiday time to train nurses all around the world. She's been to India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, Syria, Ethiopia and Cuba.

Ann-Marie is an excellent communicator, which is what makes her such a brilliant volunteer. She can put anyone at ease and really understands the needs of the nurses she is training. In 2014, she won the Royal College of Nursing in Wales Humanitarian Award, which recognises her     contribution to improving health care around the world.


LARRY BENJAMIN - Volunteer Ophthalmologist and Trustee

Larry Benjamin has been a volunteer ophthalmologist with Orbis since 2004 and joined our UK board four years later.  He is also the chair of our programme committee. Larry has travelled to nine countries over 14 trips with Orbis and was instrumental in the training of Zambia’s very first paediatric ophthalmologist, Dr Mboni. 

Larry's special interests are cataracts and the management of diabetic retinopathy and he has also served on the ophthalmic committee of the Royal Society of Medicine. He is also an avid photographer and excellent public speaker, bringing to life the conditions he treats, the patients he meets and the wider issues surrounding eye health in an accessible and captivating way.

Mr Benjamin has published numerous papers and educational books on eye diseases and was also recognised for his dedication to improving health services globally at the Charity Staff and Volunteer Awards in 2016.


MANISH RAVAL - Volunteer Anaesthetist

Manish is a volunteer anaesthetist with Orbis, having travelled to programmes in Mongolia, Zambia, China and Ghana since joining  our team of volunteers in 2011. He has been involved in both Flying Eye Hospital training programmes and planning projects for the development of new programmes.

Manish is an excellent spokesperson and often discusses the benefits of NHS staff volunteering abroad. Not only do medical staff working with less equipment, in difficult environments, return with a renewed sense of appreciation and enthusiasm for the NHS, they also assess their practices and often adopt more cost effective and equally effective processes for their departments.




For further information or to arrange an interview contact our Senior Communications Officer,  Natasha Lee via: 


Phone: 020 760 7284