AS A magician Tony Loader has managed to pull a brilliant trick out of the bag.
In the past 21 years, Mr Loader of Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville, has raised around £100,000 for the eye department at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
The retired design and technology teacher is now hanging up his fundraising boots, and hopes someone else will follow in his footsteps.
Mr Loader, who is 86 today, started raising money in 1991 after having a cataracts operation.
He said: ‘At the time of being told I had cataracts, I was told if I didn’t have an operation I would lose my sight in two years.
‘So after two successful operations the cataracts were removed and since then I have had perfect vision.
‘The gift of sight is a precious thing and one that should not be taken for granted.
‘I realised this after my surgery and have been fundraising ever since for the eye department.’
Soon after the surgery Mr Loader, who was a chief engineer for the fleet air army for 24 years, set up the QA Eye Appeal Fund.
‘After my operation I asked my doctor if there was any way I could help to say thank you,’ added Mr Loader.
‘And he said we always need new equipment, and so it started from there.
‘Anyone that would give me money, I would take it.
‘Over the years I’ve organised so many things.
‘And people have then come up to me to say they have organised events for the appeal. Every penny helped.’
Mr Loader is also a magician under the name Tonetti Revealli, and is a member of the Magic Circle.
Over the years he has put on shows to raise money for the appeal.
He has collected the money from events such as collection tins, sponsored runs and selling wooden toys made by his pupils.
The money has been spent on a number of items such as phaco machines, which remove cataracts, patient chairs and biometry machines to measure the eye.
‘It takes a lot of time and effort to organise this, but it’s time for me to stop,’ said Mr Loader.
‘I can’t emphasis strongly enough that I hope someone will take my place.’
Graham Webb, ophthalmic photography supervisor at QA, said: ‘Tony has been our champion. His enthusiasm and drive have fundamentally made the difference to the amount of money raised for the department.’
To help, call the eye department on (023) 9228 6939.