Oxford

Pensioner's camera hobby raises over £100,000 for Oxfam

  • 22 October 2011
  • From the section Oxford

By restoring old donated cameras for Oxfam, Milo Shott has raised more than £100,000 for the charity.

He began 11 years ago when he walked into the Summertown store in Oxford and saw two shop workers about to dispose of an old piece of equipment.

Mr Shott, whose interest in photography began as a child, saved what turned out to be an extremely rare telephoto lens.

After he cleaned it, the shop was able to sell the camera for £270.

"That set me thinking how many things like that may end up in the bin so I offered my help," he said.

'I have fun'

The charity now runs its camera promotions in the city every three months, often to big queues of camera enthusiasts.

Speaking to the BBC during the latest sale he said: "We were very overcrowded yesterday and sold equipment for over £800. During the week we normally make £3,000.

"The one type of customer we get regularly are collectors who are looking for something special from the old days.

"The second category is students who are told if they want to learn about photography they have to get a proper film camera, so they buy the good quality SLR cameras.

"And then there are the people who just want to go on holiday and want a camera quickly and cheaply."

Mr Shott, who is retired and originally from Czechoslovakia, said only one in 100 donations to Oxfam is in a condition to sell.

He said: "Practically all my free time is spent cleaning, checking and repairing, and I enjoy it.

"I like fiddling with mechanical things and I also find it's slowing down my arthritis.

"It's good for everybody. People get decent well-checked cameras and I have fun."

Janet Willis, the shop manager in Summertown, said the promotions had been expanded to all four of Oxfam's Oxford shops because of the demand.

She added: "I keep thinking the popularity will wane but it doesn't seem to.

'Good living'

"It's a huge amount of money and he's meticulous in what he does.

"It shows the public we've got a lot of very interesting things to sell."

Mr Shott said he was not doing the job for recognition and was happy to give back to the country that gave him a home.

"I came here in 1968 after the Russian invasion, settled here, and made a good living," he said.

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