One of Australia's living treasures, Gabi Hollows, has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney in recognition of her tireless work in the field of blindness prevention.
It was a special day for the Hollows family, with Gabi receiving the Doctor of Health Science at a ceremony also attended by her daughter Anna Louise, who graduated with a Master of Nursing.
Gabi said it was wonderful to share the experience with her middle child.
“It was such a proud moment for me to be graduating alongside one of my children in front of all our family and friends,” she said.
“When the university initially informed me that I would receive an honorary doctorate, they didn’t realise that Anna was graduating on the same day at the same ceremony, so it was a really lovely coincidence.
“However, I’m sure that Fred definitely had a part in making it happen. He always has a way of letting us know he’s still watching over us.”
Gabi has been a driving force behind The Fred Hollows Foundation since she and Fred established it around their dinner table almost 20 years ago.
She graduated as an orthoptist in 1972, specialising in disorders of eye movements and associated vision problems. This led to her spending three years on the road with Fred as part of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program,
visiting 465 Indigenous communities, helping more than 60,000 people with eye disease and giving away 10,000 pairs of glasses.
Since Fred passed away on 10 February 1993 she has been the public face of The Foundation - nurturing it from a relatively small family organisation into an international NGO working in more than 19 countries.
Last year alone, The Foundation restored sight to more than 280,000 people and trained over 10,000 eye health staff, including surgeons.
“I’ve always said The Foundation is just a huge work in progress. Every little goal we achieve is just another thread in the tapestry of the overall dream,” Gabi said.
Learn more about Fred and Gabi's work on the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program.