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Cornsay mum tells of daughter’s battle with rare eye cancer at opening of new Durham optician

Press Release   •   May 17, 2018 15:00 BST

L-R: CHECT ambassador Sky Cleverdon with family at the ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ Durham store opening.

County Durham residents are benefiting from three new ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ stores, which have officially opened their doors with a celebration led by a local youngster who survived a rare and aggressive eye cancer at just two years old.

Now aged eight, Skye Cleverdon was on hand to mark Retinoblastoma (Rb) Awareness Week 2018, with an official ribbon cutting at the new Dragonville premises. Two other stores have also opened in Bishop Auckland and Consett.

When she was two years old, Skye, from Cornsay, underwent life-saving surgery to remove her left eye after she was diagnosed with Rb, a rare and aggressive eye cancer that affects babies and children aged under six.

“At no point during her treatment did she ever complain,” said Joanne, Skye’s mum. “She even used to place the anaesthetic mask over her face herself, much to the amazement of her doctors. “Our daughter is a bright, intelligent and extremely courageous little girl and we’re so proud of her.”

Skye is now an ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) and she joined the Durham optical team in her role to celebrate the opening of their brand-new store. Vision Express has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with the charity since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness of Rb and drive donations for the charity, so they can help more families affected. It was also the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if Rb is suspected.

James Blake, ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ Durham store manager said: “We were honoured to welcome Skye and her family to our store, to share their personal experience of eye cancer. It’s a great morale boost for the team to raise awareness of Rb, and of the amazing work CHECT does for those families affected.

“Many people don’t realise that eye tests at school are no longer mandatory and this is a perfect opportunity for Vision Express to let people know about the importance of regular eye exams for children.”

The new stores in Durham Dragonville, Bishop Auckland and Consett are three of more than 200 launching across the UK in 2018, following Vision Express’ acquisition of Tesco Opticians at the end of last year.

The new stores showcase a purple-infused rebrand being introduced across the entire Vision Express network, which features a refreshed logo, striking purple and

green colour décor, bright sofas and wooden flooring, delivering a modern, inviting and vibrant environment to encourage customers to feel at ease.

Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson added: ““We are incredibly grateful to the children and families from CHECT, for giving up their time to help us to raise awareness of Rb and eye health. The courage and determination that each of them shows never ceases to amaze me.

“This is a hugely exciting time for the Vision Express family, and we’re delighted to welcome new team members to the company and provide a seamless eye health service to former Tesco optical customers. Crucially, we’re pleased to now be able to offer our vision expertise in a convenient location to residents.”

About Vision Express

Vision Express is one of the largest optical retailers in the UK and part of GrandVision, the global leader in optical retail operating in more than 40 countries, spanning over 6,500 stores and online.

With almost 600 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.

With around 6,000 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 Charity Project and include:

  • Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
  • International Glaucoma Association
  • Macular Society
  • Stroke Association
  • Temple Street University Hospital
  • Brake

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