16 Jan 2019

Childhood cancer charity boss ‘amazed’ by national optician’s £600k donation milestone

Childhood cancer charity boss ‘amazed’ by national optician’s £600k donation milestone: CHECT chief executive Patrick Tonks and CHECT fundraising manager Diane Emery accepting a cheque from Vision Express.

Funding boost for cancer charity as optical retailer presents 2018 donation

A charity supporting families through the turmoil of an eye cancer diagnosis has paid tribute to Vision Express for eight years of fundraising efforts, which have raised a much-needed £600,000 to help survivors of a rare condition called retinoblastoma (Rb).

The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) and Vision Express first joined forces in 2010. Over eight years their award-winning partnership has raised awareness of the aggressive eye cancer, affecting babies and under 5s, and its symptoms.

Alongside educational initiatives to urge parents to prioritise eye tests, young ambassadors living with the condition have visited Vision Express stores across the UK as VIPs to open new stores. Fundraising challenges have included an endurance cycling event called Ride4Sight, skydives, marathons, raffles and an annual Christmas quiz.

The charity’s chief executive, Patrick Tonks, paid tribute to the optician, saying: “I’ve worked for the charity for over three years and I still can’t truly comprehend the impact a diagnosis of Rb has on families with a baby or very young child. The cancer currently has a 98% survival rate; however, the treatment process can be very challenging – about half of the children have an eye removed to stop the cancer from spreading, which has long term implications for them and their families.

“I was amazed when I first found out the total amount raised. We really wouldn’t have been able to help so many children and families over the last eight years without Vision Express’ support - fewer people would be aware of the signs and symptoms of Rb and so it would be more difficult for some people to get an early diagnosis. From everyone at CHECT and from all the families we work with, a massive thank you goes to Vision Express.”

CHECT kicked off the New Year with with a cheque for £46,000 presented to the team by Vision Express, representing the donations pledged in the past 12 months

Commenting on the partnership, Dan McGhee, director of professional services at Vision Express, said; “Children’s sight can be tested at any age, and it’s recommended that they see an optometrist before they start school and begin learning to read. With eyes being fully developed between the age of eight and ten years old, many sight issues that have gone undetected by that time are largely irreversible. It’s important to remind parents that all children under the age of 16, or under 19 and in full-time education, are entitled to a free eye test and a contribution towards glasses or lenses on the NHS.”

“Our relationship with CHECT is extremely special to us. Vision Express was the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if Rb is suspected. We know how important is for children affected to get specialist care without delay. Thanks to our education programme and fundraising, we’re proud to know we make a difference to families who face such a devastating diagnosis.”

To help support CHECT visit: www.justgiving.com/chect or www.chect.org.uk

Contact information

Claire Stuart

Senior PR Manager


0115 988 2138

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