Graham Layton’s story is a remarkable one. The late philanthropist, industrialist and decorated officer wanted to give something back to the country that had been good to him and where he had made his fortune. In 1984, he set up The Graham Layton Trust (GLT), in the UK, to fund eye care for the poor in Pakistan.
The following year, in partnership with his best friend, Zaka Rahmatulla, he founded the Layton Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust (LRBT) as its sister charity, providing high quality, free eye care for the poor in Pakistan. By restoring basic human dignity in this way, he gave people the opportunity to live productive, independent lives.
Graham Layton was born in 1917 and educated in England. He served with the Royal Engineers in Belgium, France and Burma, for which he was awarded both the MBE and OBE.
In 1947 he went to Pakistan, seeing opportunities to use his engineering experience in the newly independent nation. He established the MacDonald Layton Company which became one of the largest construction companies in Pakistan, responsible for constructing the parliament building in Islamabad and much of the heart of modern, commercial Karachi. He retired and returned to England in 1977 but went back to Karachi in 1984, taking Pakistani citizenship in the country that was his spiritual home.
In his quest to ‘give something back’ to the people of Pakistan, Graham Layton enlisted the help of his friend and fellow businessman, Zaka Rahmatulla, who had himself lost vision in one eye. They each contributed Rs 500,000 to set up the first mobile eye unit in Karachi and established the Layton Rahmatulla Benvolent Trust to develop a network of hospitals and clinics. Zaka passed away a year later and it fell to Graham to take the project forward. Funds raised in the UK through GLT provided some of the financial backing for this.
Within a few years, the first permanent, fully equipped, brick-built hospital in Tando Bago was built. Throughout the development and rapid expansion of the LRBT hospital network and right up to the last week of his life, Graham Layton continued as the dynamic Chief Executive despite a debilitating stroke in 1989. Graham Layton always remained the hands-on manager with an outstanding ability to motivate and generate loyalty in those around him.
Graham Layton was honoured with the Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam (Star of Pakistan) in 1990 for his tireless work for the underprivileged in Pakistan; he was advanced a CBE in the UK’s 1994 New Year’s Honours. Graham Layton died in 1999 leaving the bulk of his estate to further the work of his remarkable charities.