Each Monday the Chronicle fires 10 questions at a Whanganui local, revealing their passions and some things you didn't know about them.
Today Logan Tutty speaks to Ross Hardey, who is retiring from Wanganui Eyecare after 43 years.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Dunedin. I was studying health sciences in Dunedin and you do the same introductory course for dentistry, medicine, medical science and optometry. I chose the optometry route.
Most optometrists get into optometry because they need glasses or contact lenses, but it became through when I was studying sciences in Dunedin and my father said "what about optometry?", which I never thought about and I thought "yes that does appeal to me". And it certainly did and I never regretted it.
When did you move to Whanganui?
We came here in 1977, so been 43 years at Wanganui Eyecare. Before that I worked in Christchurch and London. The reason we came here was because the previous optometrist was coming down the Paraparas from the visiting practice in Ohakune and went over the side of the road near Raukawa Falls and died. Michael Webber, the optometrist here at the time rang me and knew I was interested and said: "How about it?"
What do you love about Whanganui?
I didn't know a lot about Whanganui when we came here other than it had a big river running through it. When we came here, we found it a very quaint city. The people were very welcoming to us so we settled down here and brought up our family here. What we like is the climate, the intimate beauty of it, the access to facilities like golf and I like being in a coastal town.
Do you have a highlight from your working career?
It started as a two-man practice and now is a five-man practice, so the success and growth of the practice is very satisfying.
As part of that, we have also been able to give back to the community and volunteer overseas in the Pacific Islands and India.
A number of years ago we won the Community Service Award at the Whanganui Business Awards because we have given back to the community and sponsored various groups and people.
To grow the practice to a three-practice site brings a great sense of satisfaction.
I'm sad about leaving all the wonderful people and patients who become friends so that's what I'm going to miss.
What do you enjoy most about optometry?
The service. The fact that people go out feeling a lot better, seeing a lot better. You create an instantaneous help for people so I think in the end I'm very glad to have that.
What do you have planned in retirement?
I was thinking of working until next year but the Covid situation with work being closed down and being at home precipitated the retirement thoughts and it happened slightly faster than I intended. We had a big trip planned but that won't be happening. I'll continue to do community service and still do a little bit of optometry, play a bit of golf, of course, and ultimately we would like to shift closer to our children who live in Hawke's Bay and would like to be closer to our grandchildren at some stage.
Was there a specific moment in the lockdown that made you realise you wanted to retire now?
It's not often you get a chance to sit around with your wife and just sit and talk about these things, we had a lot more time. We started to think about our plans for the future; do we stay in home where there are no children anymore and it just came to the point where it seemed like a good time to make that decision.
What would you say to your 25-year-old self?
I have thought about that. I would tell myself to be confident to go with my heart and go with my instincts when I made decisions and not overthink things, generally your first impression of what is right and what you should do is what you should do.
If you never did optometry, what career path would you have chosen?
Funny enough, which is unusual for a science-orientated person, I think I would have liked to have been a lawyer because I quite enjoy the analysis of problems and issues and sorting things out. Maybe a doctor also.