Richard ‘Dick’ Porter, former chief executive of Sightsavers, was a much-loved manager and mentor with many admirers across the eye health sector.
Dick trained as an economist and worked at KPMG as an international economist and management consultant, before taking over as CEO at Sightsavers from Alan Johns in 1994. During his 11 years in the role, he transformed the organisation and mentored many people who went on to leadership positions across the sector.
In his later role as director of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, he was crucial in shaping IAPB’s VISION 2020, a global initiative that aimed to eliminate avoidable blindness.
One of Dick’s major contributions to eye health was working with Standard Chartered Bank to create and implement the Seeing is Believing programme, initially at Sightsavers and then at IAPB. By the time it ended, Seeing is Believing transformed the sector by reaching more than 250 million people and by fundraising more than US$100 million for eye care service delivery and training.
After his time at IAPB, Dick Porter chaired the UK arm of the Fred Hollows Foundation.
“Dick was fundamental in developing Sightsavers over more than a decade,” said Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper. “His leadership built on the foundations laid by Sir John and Lady Jean Wilson. I was privileged to take over from Dick in 2005, and found an organisation that was able to make a huge difference to the lives of some of the most marginalised people on earth.
“Because of the skill, tenacity and dedication of both the Wilsons and Dick, it has been possible to take Sightsavers to new heights both in terms of impact and influence. Rest in peace Dick.”
Joanna Conlon, director of communications and development at IAPB, said: “Dick was a friend and mentor to many in the sector, and I am grateful to have known him, and worked with him. He was always warm and clever. His natural warmth and good humour were crucial to bringing the sector closer together. Dick’s passion and commitment to eye health drew many of us to the sector. Today, there are many who will celebrate his memory and all that we did together.”
IAPB chief executive Peter Holland said: “Dick’s passing is a big loss to his many friends in the eye health sector, including in the UK. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Dick died on 22 July 2022. He is survived by his wife Sue, and their two daughters.