As the UK marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, volunteers from Vision Express support centre and stores across the country have taken part in a gruelling 200-mile cycle challenge called Ride4Sight, and raised £23,000 to help UK families affected by a rare eye cancer.
Back for a third year, the two-day Ride4Sight began at 7.30am on September 16 at the Newport Vision Express store before heading through a scenic route across the Wye Valley, Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds. The journey north included visits to Vision Express stores in Monmouth, Stratford-upon-Avon, Knowle and Ashby, before finishing at Vision Express headquarters in Ruddington, Nottingham on the afternoon of September 17, 2016.
Young eye cancer survivors, who are ambassadors for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), joined the cyclists at stops along the way, to offer support and help boost the team’s morale.
Katie Boyce, eight, from Newhall, greeted the team at the Vision Express Ashby store. Katie was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both her eyes when she was two years old. Her parents assumed she had a squint but, after getting her checked and being referred to hospital, were told that she had eye cancer. Katie needed chemotherapy and now only has sight in her right eye.
Katie said: “I was really excited to welcome the riders. The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust has been there to support me ever since I was first diagnosed so I’m really pleased I was given the opportunity to help out in this way. I’m just glad I had the easy job!”
More than 35 Vision Express employees completed the feat, including Nottingham’s four-time Olympic cycling medallist Bryan Steel, riding tandem with CHECT patron and Paralympian Darren Harris and Ian Ellington, who is chairman of the charity.
Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson, who also participated in the fundraiser, said: "The Ride4Sight was a fantastic success, bringing together teams from across our store network to support the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. The volunteers who stepped up to do this for 2016 aren’t professional cyclists, so for many it’s a personal challenge, undertaking what was the toughest route yet. Helping families affected by such a devastating condition is a cause close to our hearts and we’re thrilled we managed to beat our fundraising target, raising £23,000 for CHECT.”
CHECT Chairman Ian Ellington said: “The funds raised from the Ride4Sight will help ensure that when a parent’s worst nightmare is realised and they are told the devastating news that their child has eye cancer, they do not have to face this on their own.
“CHECT provides life-long support to those affected, as well as funding ground-breaking research projects that will benefit children in the future. We are very grateful to Vision Express for helping us to educate others about this life-threatening condition and to raise much-needed funds to enable this vital work to continue.”
- Vision Express has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness of retinoblastoma and drive donations for the charity, so they can help more families affected.
It was the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if retinoblastoma is suspected. Employees and customers of Vision Express have raised around £300,000 since the partnership was forged. Ride4Sight was established in 2013 to mark the 25th anniversary of Vision Express.
For more information on retinoblastoma please visit www.chect.org.uk
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 6,000 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: