Vision Express

Fundraiser who shed eight stone through cycling leads Vision Express volunteers on charity bike challenge

Press release   •   Jul 20, 2016 12:55 BST

Nottingham cycling enthusiast, Darren Cole, who has shed eight stone since taking up the sport, is leading a team of Vision Express volunteers ahead of a 200-mile, two-day fundraiser this September.

Darren’s passion for cycling began with the inaugural ‘Ride4Sight’ event in 2013 and the Vision Express IT Systems Engineer would be the first to admit that cycling has changed his life, going from a life of junk food to riding over 22 miles a day to and from work.

Darren said: “Before I started cycling, I did little to no exercise, but since those first few rides to and from work, wheezing along the canal paths of Beeston, I’ve ridden over 25,000 miles, completed two ‘Ride4Sight’ events, and raised over £2,000 for charity.

“I’ve spent 1400 hours on the bike, burned 625,000 calories, lost eight stone and 10 inches from my waist. The cycling bug has really bitten me hard!”

Darren is now coordinating the cycling fundraiser as it launches for the third year with its most challenging route yet, leading the cyclists - including Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson – on a tough training regime in preparation for the ride.

The team will journey from Newport’s Vision Express store in South Wales, cycling through the beautiful Wye Valley, Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds. The route north will include visits to Vision Express stores in Monmouth, Stratford, Knowle and Ashby, before the fundraisers crossing the finish line at the Vision Express headquarters in Ruddington in Nottingham on the afternoon of 17 September 2016. Eye cancer survivors who live near to the route will turn out to support the cyclists and rally for donations.

The ‘Ride4Sight’ is Vision Express’ flagship fundraising campaign for charity partner the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT). Vision Express employees across the UK have raised more than £300,000 to date and hope to add £20,000 to the tally this year.

As well as volunteers based at the Nottingham head office, cyclists will include staff from almost 20 stores across the country.

The Ride4Sight is launched as Public Health England pushes for more Britons to take up regular cycling to help reduce the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia:

Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson said: “The last Ride4Sight was a fantastic success, bringing together teams from across our store network to complete an endurance event for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. The volunteers who have stepped up to do this for 2016 aren’t professional cyclists, so for many it’s a personal challenge, undertaking what will be the toughest route yet. Helping families affected by such a devastating condition is a cause close to our hearts and we’ve got our sights set on beating our £20,000 fundraising target.”

CHECT chief executive Patrick Tonks said: “The funds raised by Vision Express will ensure a support worker is there for every parent that receives the news that their child has eye cancer, and continues to support the whole family as they go through treatment which may last several years.

“CHECT provides a comprehensive support service from the point of diagnosis and at all key stages in the life of the child. We also campaign to raise vital awareness of the signs of retinoblastoma and fund ground-breaking research projects that will benefit children in the future. We are extremely grateful to the team at Vision Express for undertaking this third challenging event which will raise awareness of this life threatening cancer in addition to much-needed funds to enable us to continue our vital work with those affected.”

Follow #Ride4Sight on Twitter to keep updated with the cyclists’ progress. Donations can be made online at:

About Vision Express

Vision Express is the third largest optical retailer in the UK and part of GrandVision,the global leader in optical retail operating across 43 countries, spanning over 5,800 stores and online.

With more than 390 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.

Vision Express is considered one of the leading and most trusted opticians in the UK and Ireland, with its European offering supported through sister eye care brands Grand Optical, Solaris and Generale D'Optique.

With around 4,000 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charitable Partnerships and include: