You may know Ray Martin as a legendary journalist and TV personality, but within the walls of The Fred Hollows Foundation, he’s better known as our first chairman and Fred’s old mate.
Ray and Fred first met in 1980, when Fred and Gabi were finishing up on The National Trachoma and Eye Health Program. Ray was working for 60 Minutes, and Fred agreed to a story to raise awareness about the terrible living conditions and eye disease in rural and remote Aboriginal communities.
Fred had an egalitarian outlook on life and privilege, and Ray, who had been in Beirut covering the civil war, arrived a few days later than the rest of the 60 Minutes crew. It didn’t help Ray’s cause that he came by a chartered flight, and Fred, never one to miss an opportunity, took a dig at Ray as they met for the first time around the campfire.
So you’re the f#$%ing superstar, eh?
- Fred Hollows to Ray Martin on their first encounter
Frank Hardy, the novelist and activist who was spending time at the eye camp, sprang to Ray’s defense. Whether it was Frank’s nod of approval, or Ray winning Fred over, this meeting was the beginning of a special, decade long friendship. When Ray was hosting The Midday Show, Fred would often ring up and invite himself on whenever he needed a direct line to the Australian public to raise awareness (or funds) for his latest cause.
Before he died, Fred asked Ray to be the first chairman of The Foundation. During those crucial early years, Ray helped raise the much needed funds, as well as support The Foundation’s first work in Eritrea, Nepal and Vietnam. Ray will always be a friend of The Foundation, so when we asked him to come with us to Laos earlier this year, he jumped at the chance.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more about Ray’s trip to Laos and the sight saving surgery on seven-month-old twins, Samlan and Sintham. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with a quote from Ray which we think perfectly sums up Fred.
I have said it many times – Fred and Sir Donald Bradman are the most remarkable men I have ever met
- Ray Martin