"I think it's fabulous what progress is being made...it sounds like a much better picture for people for the future"

Posted: Thursday 07 November 2019

The daughter of comedy writer and TV presenter, Denis Norden, has become a Patron of the Macular Society in memory of her late father.

Maggie Norden, who is a broadcaster and journalist, said the Society was a great source of information and support to her father, who passed away last year.

She said: “The Macular Society has been incredibly supportive to everyone who gets macular disease in all the various stages.”

Talking about why she was keen to become a Patron herself, she said: “From my own point of view I didn’t really think about it until my father got it. Seeing the statistics and recognising how many people there are with the disease today I think that it’s important to do everything we can to support the Society.”

She added: “It’s marvellous what’s being done with mental health and cancer, but I haven’t seen the same focus on macular disease in any way and the extent of the problem is huge.”

Denis Norden joined the Macular Society as a member in 2004 after he was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He then became a Patron in 2009.

He spoke generously of the support he’d had from the Society, saying: “They have been of enormous use to me in all sorts of ways; they have been unfailingly helpful and deserve every type of praise.”

Maggie recalled when her father was diagnosed with AMD, describing it as a devastating time for him.

“It was the saddest news,” she said. “Because he could read four books a day, he really was someone who was nourished by the word so for him to know he was going to lose his sight was huge.”

Maggie talked fondly of how Denis and the late Eric Sykes (who also became a Macular Society Patron) would compare notes about their deteriorating eyesight.

“Eric and Denis used to compare notes about magnifying glasses and who could see what; they both cracked jokes, making me smile.”

Denis was very interested in research and particularly developments being made in gene replacement therapy and stem cell research.

Maggie said the future for people affected by macular disease was a lot more hopeful. 

“I think it’s fabulous what progress is being made. I think it’s a terrific way to go forward now. There’s lots happening, including genetic counselling, which is something that didn’t happen years ago. So, I think that if it’s inherited it sounds like a much better picture for people for the future.”

Maggie has announced that some of her father’s early memorabilia, including papers and theatre books will go into a the Victoria and Albert Museum for future students with an interest in comedy to study. She said the family is also planning to auction a few of Denis’s belongings, with all proceeds donated to the Society.