I want to give the gift of sight to a child

The Littler Brothers and the founding of vision4children

Arvind Chandna, chair of vision4children and Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist at Alder Hey Children’s hospital had for a time a small private practice based in Rodney Street.


One of his patients was a man called Ken Littler who had an interesting eye condition and in fact only had sight in one of his eyes.


He was treated successfully by Mr Chandna but by then the two men had built up a rapport and he continued to visit regularly to talk to Mr Chandna about the problem of childhood blindness, the lack of medical research into causes of childhood blindness and the horrific number of unnecessarily blind children in the world.


Unbeknownst to Mr Chandna, Ken Littler – who was an electrician by trade – was a gifted and avid painter. However, Ken was unable to paint for some time because of his eye condition. After his eye condition was treated successfully he returned to painting with renewed enthusiasm.


As a child he won a painting competition and his picture was featured in the Liverpool Echo. A stranger then called at his home offering to pay for Ken – and his twin brother Gordon to attend art school, but Ken’s father said: “No sons of mine are going to Art School; they will do proper jobs.” They both qualified as electricians and went on to work for what was the Liverpool Corporation.


It wasn’t until 1992 that whilst visiting a Sarah Samuels Fine Art Gallery in Chester and chatting to Sarah that Ken was inspired to start painting again and went on to have sell out shows in Chester, the Cotswolds and London.
He said “All my life, I have had a compulsion to paint – and when the top of the wardrobe became too full of paintings, Gordon and I would go down to the allotment to burn them.”


As a result of these chats with Mr Chandna, Ken Littler gave him £20,000 and told him basically to put his money where his mouth was and set up a charity which works to counteract the worldwide problems of childhood blindness that they discussed over the years.


That was in 2008. Since then both Ken and his brother Gordon have sadly died, but their legacy lives on. The official name of v4c is ‘vision4children (The Littler Trust)’ as the brothers left the bulk of their estate to the charity in their wills.


Today, thanks to the Littler brothers vision4children is an established charity that still values its connection with the brothers. Our current board consists of their cousin Barbara and the gallery owner in Chester who advised Ken to pick up a paintbrush once again is also closely associated with the charity.