In December 2019 an optometrist at Specsavers Wolverhampton helped to diagnose a rare form of childhood cancer in local toddler, Oliver Rushton.
When James Rushton spotted an unusual white reflection in the pupil of his two-year-old son, Oliver’s eye, he asked the team at his local Specsavers to take a closer look. Having spotted an abnormality, optometrist Pardip Kaur referred Oliver for further tests, and he was later diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer that can affect young children, usually under the age of five.
Moved by Oliver’s story and inspired by the fundraising his parents (James and Sally) were undertaking to support charity, The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), the Specsavers team decided they wanted to help.
After nominating CHECT as their charity for the year, the staff at the store organised a fundraising month in May, inspired by TV’s The Apprentice, which would transpire to raise more than they could have ever hoped.
‘The staff split into two teams,’ explained Specsavers Wolverhampton store director, Hardip Bahia. ‘They then faced-off over the month to come up with different ways of raising money for CHECT. We had everything from pub bingo nights to car boot sales, car washes, cake sales, family fun days and even a diamond ring raffle!
‘When we hit the £2,000 mark, after just two weeks, I thought they might double that by the end of the month. To hit a final total of £6,862 is incredible. Of course, we kept all this secret from the teams, and they heard the fantastic total at a final showdown at the beginning of June.’
Those in the know at Specsavers also managed to keep the total under-wraps from Oliver’s parents, organising a big reveal on 8 August where Diane Emery, fundraising manager at CHECT, came along to receive the giant cheque.
Diane, impressed by the team’s efforts, said: ‘To raise almost £7,000 in a month is a fantastic achievement. It will make such a difference to the work we do and help so many young children and their families.
‘Around one child a week is diagnosed with retinoblastoma, we offer support from diagnosis right through to adulthood, as we know the impact can be lifelong. Money raised funds research into the prevention and treatment of the condition as well as helping us to raise awareness and influence policy to ensure patients receive the best treatment.’
Oliver’s parents, James and Sally have also been working to raise awareness of the condition locally, sharing their son’s story in the hopes of helping other families. Finding out the total raised by the team was a huge surprise for them: ‘We couldn’t believe it when they turned the cheque around,’ said James. ‘We’re so grateful to Pardip for referring Oliver so quickly and for all of her help after. For the team to go on and fundraise for CHECT was amazing.’
Oliver’s mum, Sally added: ‘The journey from diagnosis to today has been hard, but the support from CHECT has helped massively. We’re really pleased they will be receiving such a great donation to continue their vital work.’
To find out more about retinoblastoma and CHECT visit www.chect.org.uk