A retired train driver rolled up his sleeves and put in the hard yards to raise funds for charity. Tony Harris arranged 74 days of employment with individuals and businesses and donated every penny he earned to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
His list of jobs included serving customers in a café, packing bags in a supermarket, airport taxi runs, painting, gardening, handing out bus timetables and even catering for a Christening party.
“My original goal had been to raise £5,000, so to finish with £8,500, including Gift Aid, was beyond my wildest dreams,” said Tony.
“I’m gobsmacked and very proud.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my challenge and found it immensely satisfying. There was a real mix and I met some fantastic, generous and interesting people, with lots of stories to tell.
“I had the pleasure of helping a number of widowed ladies and loved listening to their life stories.
“One had recently found out her biological father’s name and he was an American airman based in Suffolk during World War Two. She also discovered she had a number of half-siblings so went to America to meet them in May.
“There were some jobs I really enjoyed, including working on the Adnams stall at the Suffolk Show. It was a challenge as I had to act as if I was an expert on the different types and tastes of beers and spirits, even though I’m teetotal!
“Another was my first day at the Geek Retreat cafe, where the staff and customers made me feel so welcome. I learnt how to make different types of coffee and ice cream sundaes.
“There were only two types of jobs I disliked. The first was removing and reapplying silicon in showers.
“The second happened while bag-packing in a supermarket. The job of loading customers’ bags was easy enough, but the number of rejections I had was tough to take!
“Generally speaking, though, it’s been a great experience and I loved doing things that made a difference and helped people. That’s given me the most pleasure.
“The reason I chose EACH is because I used to live in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, near The Treehouse. I’ve always been aware of the great work the charity does and have so much respect for it.
“I can’t begin to imagine how parents must feel when they have children with life-threatening conditions and want to do whatever I can to help.”
Tony, who lives in Rushmere St Andrew, took early retirement in 2021 and used to be a train driver for Greater Anglia. He completed training and induction sessions in his own time and the money he earned went straight into a JustGiving kitty, paid directly to EACH.
Other jobs he took on throughout the year included repairing laminate flooring, repairing and painting garden sheds, repairing a front door and conservatory, power-washing paving and a pergola, fixing a washing machine, installing a blind, erecting flat-pack furniture and putting up shelves and cupboards.
Ali Butler, EACH’s Senior Community Fundraiser for Suffolk and East Essex, said: “I’d like to say a big well done, thank you and congratulations to the amazing Tony.
“His fundraising will make a huge difference and he should feel very proud of all he’s achieved. We’re so grateful for his hard work and have loved hearing about his challenge.”
Tony, who joked that he will now have to tackle a long list of jobs drawn up by his wife, Tracy, hit the local headlines in May 2022 after writing his debut novel – a “thriller, mystery, whodunnit” called Suffolk’s Last Cold War Victim – and donating royalties to EACH.
Still available via Amazon, the novel is set in rural Suffolk and centres around the eventful life of investigative reporter George Mitchell.
“I’d like to remind everyone that they can still help me raise even more money by purchasing my book,” said Tony.
“100% of any royalties will go to EACH.”