In 2008 I was filming gorillas in the marvellously named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. I met a young English doctor, Paul Williams, and his wife Vicky. He told me about a hospital he was running just on the edge of Bwindi village. It all sounded so intriguing that I asked if I could visit.
I found that Paul had picked up on the work of the original founder and created a quite magnificent community hospital. HIV, malaria and highly resistant forms of TB are triple killers in this part of the world and Paul set about tackling each of these threats with a combination of sensitivity, science and dogged persistence.
From miles and miles around the people came as he and the hospital earned more trust and a growing reputation. From the moment I met Paul and Vicky Williams and saw the work they were doing I determined to help in any way I could and have been pleased to do a small amount. But it is nothing compared to the simply remarkable contribution of the Elton John Aids Foundation to Bwindi and to hundreds of projects like it, a contribution that makes a genuine and measurably transformative difference on the ground – a contribution that has saved and is saving thousands of lives.
It would be an injustice of the grossest kind if anyone thought EJAF some kind of rock star vanity project. It is one of the most serious, progressive and effective forces in the HIV/Aids sector worldwide. I include Britain in that. In my capacity as president of Friends for Life, the fundraising arm of the Terrence Higgins Trust, Europe's largest HIV/Aids charity, I know that we could not function as we do without generous and substantial grants from EJAF. As a charity it is one of the unsung heroes of the world. I am pleased to add my few words to its praise.