Fred Hollows coin released

By AAP 8 July 2010
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A one dollar coin commemorating the work of the late Fred Hollows is being released this week.

FRED HOLLOWS, WHOSE LEGACY lives on in the people he helped regain sight, will now be remembered through a commemorative coin, to be released Friday night.

Gabi Hollows says her late husband would be humbled at having a coin pressed in his honour. “He would be slightly embarrassed about it but also quite chuffed that they’ve given him that honour,” she says.

Fred’s work to save the sight of countless people across the world, and especially Australian Aborigines, brought him acclaim and in 1990 he was named Australian of the Year.

“He wore his badge of honour very well when he was Australian of the year and now to be put on an Australian coin – it will be quite special,” his widow said.

Before his death from cancer in 1993, Dr Hollows pioneered the mass-manufacture of the intraocular lens in the developing world to treat cataracts and blindness.

“[Fred said] `let’s manufacture this lens at an affordable price – let’s make an operation for $25′ and we’ve done that,” says Gabi, estimating that more than four million people in the world have benefited from its use. 

“Fred was determined to make sure we had no double standards in terms of prevention of blindness. People were given the same type of surgery that would have been done in his private clinic.”

The Fred Hollows coin, which is uncirculated and aimed at collectors, will be part of the Royal Australian Mint’s Inspirational Australians series. It recognises those who have made an extraordinary contribution to society. Sculpted by Mint Engraver Vladimir Gottwald, the coin design is inspired from a photograph taken by George Fetting, which depicts Fred holding an intraocular lens.

“We are proud to include Fred in this popular collector series which honours truly inspirational Australians,” says Ross MacDiarmid, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Australian Mint.

Gabi says she was “really, really proud” and hopes the coin brings attention to the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation, which helps restore eyesight to thousands of people in developing countries. 

Last year, the Foundation restored sight to over 190 000 people across 18 countries and trained over 5000 eye health workers, said Brian Doolan, Chief Executive Officer of The Fred Hollows Foundation.