Shaun discusses his late father Tony, who raised over £6000 for CHECT by making and selling hedgehogs and bird boxes. All of us at CHECT pass on our best wishes to Tony’s family, as we fondly remember Tony for his kind generosity. 

Cancer is tough but the people who battle it are even tougher and our family has had its fair share of battles with cancer.

Our son Karl was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma in1999, age 3 months and had his left eye enucleated and went through cryotherapy and laser treatment to his right eye at Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital. 25 years later his grandfather and my father, Tony Dollery passed away from complications attributed to cancer on the 28 December 2023.

Tony's bird houses and hedgehog boxes

My father has always been very proud of both his grandchildren but always loved to spend time with Karl; he enjoyed teaching him the carpentry skills he had used all his working life and later through retirement building hedgehog boxes and bird boxes which he would sell at local events and outside their house, donating all the proceeds to CHECT raising thousands of pounds over the years. He also had a passion for steam engines, fairgrounds and models of both; often travelling to places such as the Dorset Steam Fair with both of my sons in their Motorhome.

When Karl was younger, he would happily spend hours ‘helping’ his grandad sawing, plaining and hammering nails into bits of wood making things. He was taught well; age 20 he built a summer house in our back garden on his own and it’s still standing, as good as the day he built it.

Karl wearing sunglasses with a llama

Karl’s grandfather’s skills and stories of his travels around Europe in his 20’s, definitely inspired Karl to get out and see the world. Age 17, Karl took his first trip on his own to Asia and hasn’t stopped since.

Whilst in hospital, a few days before he passed away my dad said to me, ‘Have you told the nurse about Karl?’. I said ‘No’, he replied ‘Can I?’, ‘Of course’ I replied. He spent the next 10 minutes proudly telling the nurse about his travels and retinoblastoma. He would tell everyone, especially those who bought his hedgehog and bird boxes which supported CHECT.

He will be missed by all who knew him.

Karl will hopefully soon tell his story to CHECT to include his adventures in Thailand, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia, Europe and work in the USA at Summer Camps for children twice. All before the age of 25!

We offer lifelong support to anyone who has been affected by retinoblastoma – you call us on 020 7377 5578 or email support@chect.org.uk.