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Local Paralympic legend joins Vision Express to officially open its new optical store at Tesco in Solihull

Press Release   •   Apr 16, 2018 16:01 BST

L-R: Nathan Hamill deputy store manager with Darren Harris local Paralympic legend

Darren Harris backs Vision Express’ call for community to prioritise sight.

A Paralympic football legend officially kicked off the new ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ store in Solihull as guest of honour, joining the team to encourage residents to have regular eye tests.

Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) patron, and Paralympian, Darren Harris was on hand to help cut the ribbon on the premises, which is home to sophisticated sight screening equipment.

Darren was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma (Rb), a rare form of eye cancer when he was just 15 months old. “My eyes were a little bit red and I had a white reflex,” he explained. “Local doctors didn’t really know what it was – it was 1975 and there was little awareness of eye cancer.” Following his diagnosis, Darren had his left eye removed and his right eye was treated with radiotherapy.

Darren went on to compete as part of the Team GB VI football team at the 2012 Paralympics, and he also represented Britain as a judoka at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Darren is now hoping to be selected for the World Championships in Madrid this summer. He has also supported Vision Express’ Ride4Sight campaign in recent years – a charity bike ride with employees from across the country taking part to raise funds and awareness of Rb in support of CHECT.

He added: “It’s a pleasure to have the honour of officially opening the new Vision Express store in Solihull and to be able to spread awareness of the importance of regular eye tests - especially in the detection and treatment of Rb. It is a vital message and it’s great to see an optician taking it so seriously.”

The ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ store is now home to sophisticated sight screening equipment that will deliver a thorough eye health service to residents, helping to detect a range of health conditions.

Deputy store manager Nathan Hamill said: “Retinoblastoma is a condition we are very passionate about raising awareness of at Vision Express, so it was great to have Darren with us to help us unveil our new store in Tesco.

“We had a fantastic day celebrating the opening and with our state-of-the-art examining equipment, we’re looking forward to delivering an individual andthorough vision care service to current and new customers.”

The Solihull optical store is one of more than 200 ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ outlets launching across the UK in 2018, all showcasing a purple-infused rebrand being introduced across the entire Vision Express chain.

The re-brand introduces a refreshed logo and striking purple and green colour decor, featuring bright sofas and wooden flooring, delivering a modern, inviting and vibrant environment to encourage customers to feel at ease.

Vision Express acquired Tesco Opticians at the end of 2017. In preparation for the expected increase in demand for frames prompted by the acquisition, a £1.5 million investment has been made at Vision Express’ Nottingham-based Technical Centre.

The national home of Vision Express’ laboratory, the Technical Centre currently produces more than one million pairs of glasses a year but following the investment, production capacity is expected to double during 2018.

Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson added: “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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