Richard Porter obituary

Other lives: Former chief executive of Sightsavers who worked towards universal access to eye care

My friend Richard Porter, who has died aged 80, was a former chief executive of Sightsavers, an international charity working to prevent avoidable blindness. Then, from 2006, he served as director of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, an alliance of more than 150 global eye health organisations working together for a world in which everyone has access to eye care.

He was born in Felixstowe in Suffolk, the son of Maynard Porter, company secretary of a building firm, and his wife, Irene. Dick was a sporty, clever child. From St Joseph’s college in Ipswich, he went on to study economics at the City of London College , where he met Sue Early, whom he married in 1965.

After marketing jobs, Dick joined Peat Marwick Mitchell (later KPMG) as a management consultant. His work often took him away from home, so he decided to apply for a project for the World Bank in India where Sue could join him, and in the mid-1970s they moved their young family to Madras (now Chennai) and lived there for two years. Via projects in Kuala Lumpur and Syria, they returned to London in 1981 and Dick worked for an environmental consultancy, then returned to KPMG as a partner.

He joined Sightsavers as CEO in 1994. Across the next 11 years he transformed the organisation and its finances, introducing new fundraising methods and corporate partnerships.

India maintained a place in Dick and Sue’s hearts; they visited the country regularly and built up a special relationship with the city of Hyderabad, home to the world-renowned LVP Eye Institute founded by Dr Nag Rao. Nag was a close friend and was chairman of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness during Dick’s time there as director.

Dick played a crucial role in giving shape to VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, an ambitious sector-wide strategy to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. He also led work with Standard Chartered Bank to create and implement the Seeing is Believing campaign, which reached more than 250 million people and raised over $100m for eye care.

After retiring from IAPB in 2008, Dick served in a voluntary post as chair of the UK arm of the Fred Hollows Foundation, the eye health non-profit organisation, 2010-18, providing strategic oversight and the benefit of his experience as a leader and activist.

He pursued his love of tennis, playing two or three times a week, went cycling with his sons-in-law and grandsons, and enjoyed reading and gardening. He was also able to spend longer periods in the old stone village house in the wine lands of southern France that he and Sue had bought in 1990.

He is survived by Sue, their daughters, Anna and Kitty, and five grandchildren.

Joanna Conlon

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Right Rev Richard Lewis obituary
Other lives: Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich who had an uncompromising commitment to inclusivity

Ruth Hedley

21, Dec, 2020 @2:44 PM

Article image
John Prior obituary
Other lives: Catholic priest and theologian who spent most of his life working on the Indonesian island of Flores

Mary Prior

31, Jul, 2022 @4:37 PM

Article image
Jan Dungey obituary
Other lives: Performer who was one of the founders of the all-female Cunning Stunts theatre group

Nicky Stainton

28, Jan, 2022 @5:46 PM

Article image
Gareth Jones obituary
Other lives: Painter, printmaker and teacher to artists in Wales and Suffolk

Sean Thompson

24, Nov, 2021 @10:12 PM

Article image
John Howson obituary
Other Lives: Collector and publisher of English folk music, particularly from Suffolk

Derek Schofield

24, Jul, 2022 @4:42 PM

Article image
Neil McLachlan obituary
Other lives: Research scientist at British Steel who achieved a world record in blind mountaineering

Abigail McLachlan

16, Oct, 2022 @4:28 PM

Article image
Diana Porter obituary
Other lives: Bristol-based jewellery designer whose work was popular in the city – and well beyond its boundaries

Jeremy Dain

31, Mar, 2021 @9:31 AM

Article image
Gill Dorer obituary
Other lives: A director at Arthritis Care and Relate who was also a magistrate and member of the GMC

Gemma Dorer

02, Oct, 2022 @7:13 PM

Article image
Paul O’Dwyer obituary
Other lives: Former soldier who co-founded the veterans’ charity SA1UTE and the homelessness campaign group Trampface

Fiona Dwyer

31, Dec, 2021 @12:26 PM

Article image
Rosemary Crawley obituary
Other lives: Community worker and magistrate who helped young parents and founded a charity to support asylum seekers

Anthony Wilson

08, May, 2022 @3:13 PM