Sophie Wessex makes royal first with special engagement for charity close to heart

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The Countess of Wessex, 55, carried out an engagement for the Vision Foundation. Sophie became the first member of the Royal Family to sit for a sculptor while being streamed live on the internet.

Prince Edward’s wife took part in the sculpting session to raise awareness about the blind and partially sighted.

She said: “For the blind and partially sighted amongst us, these past months have been especially challenging.

“However, through the care that the Vision Foundation has extended to those in difficulty, I am hopeful that the people we care for will feel empowered within their communities.”

The sculpture was created by Leeds-born artist Frances Segelman.

Sophie added: “Thank you to Frances for sculpting my face today.

“This sculpture, and the faces of many others, will allow the blind and partially sighted to see through touch and so to more vividly imagine their world.

“Whether you are a long-time supporter or friend of the Vision Foundation, or you are new to us, thank you for your vital support, and I would encourage you all to speak to the Foundation team to find out more about our work and explore how you can play a part in bringing the world to within closer reach for those who struggle to see it.”

The piece of art will be unveiled next year to mark the Vision Foundation’s centenary.

It will allow blind and partially sighted people to feel Sophie’s likeness.

The sculptor, who is also Lady Petchey, completed a bronze bust of the Queen in 2008.

Describing the sitting with the monarch, she said: “She’s a very special person.

“She came in the room and she was so calm and so poised and so willing to change her tiara, to change the jewellery, to try different things on and she seems so ordinary.

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“She was sitting on a slightly higher area than I was sculpting so I had to measure her with calipers so I was going backwards and forwards from her hair!

“I was so nervous, you know, I was touching the Queen!”

She has also completed sculptures of Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince William and Princess Anne.

Sophie has been patron of the Vision Foundation since 2003.

The London-based charity funds and support projects that involve and empower blind and partially sighted people.

Eradicating avoidable blindness is a cause close to Sophie’s heart.

She is patron of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight and global ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

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