Sir Ray Avery, the 2010 New Zealander of the Year, will be in Wanganui tonight for the annual Pickering Lecture series.
The series, presented by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ), is titled Innovation through observation and focuses on Sir Ray's work that has changed the lives of some of the world's poorest people.
The founder and chief executive of award-winning development agency Medicine Mondiale, Sir Ray's life story is in itself inspirational.
Born in England to violent parents, he grew up in orphanages and on the street. Despite the odds, and thanks to a thoughtful teacher, he managed to get through school, discovering a love of science along the way. He settled in New Zealand in the 1970s.
Sir Ray was a founding member of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the Auckland University Medical School and a technical director of Douglas Pharmaceuticals but a meeting with the legendary Fred Hollows changed his life. As he lay dying in a Sydney hospital bed, Mr Hollows told Sir Ray to "stop making money out of sick people and do something *^%*^* useful with your life".
As an advisor for the Fred Hollows Foundation, Sir Ray designed and commissioned Intraocular Lens Laboratories in Eritrea and Nepal, cutting the cost of lenses and making them available to the world's poorest communities. The low-cost lenses are expected to bring sight to 30 million people by 2020.
As the CEO of Medicine Mondiale, Sir Ray worked with teams to develop infant incubators, IV flow controllers and pre-digested protein formulations to combat child malnutrition.
His lecture will be held at 5.30pm in the War Memorial Hall and entry is free.