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Opticians in Ilkley sponsor local cyclist for charity ride across America

22 May, 2015
Specsavers opticians in Ilkley sponsor local man Neil Harris with his charity cycle

The team at Specsavers in Ilkley has donated a pair of custom glasses to a man to help with his charity cycle challenge across the USA.

When customer Neil Harris visited his local store to enquire about getting some glasses for his trip, the team were so impressed by his story that they offered to make him a pair for free.

Neil's story
Flying out to Seattle on 3 May 2015, his aim is to cycle 4,500 miles in 50 days, from the West Coast to the East Coast of the USA, crossing four time zones and travelling through 15 states. The terrain along the course of the route equates to cycling up and down Mount Everest from sea level five times, and the total distance is equivalent to 28,000 laps of an Olympic velodrome.

Neil commented: ‘I’m aiming to cycle around 100 miles per day and as I’m doing it unsupported, I’ll be carrying everything I need, including rope so I can hang my food out of the reach of bears! It would be fantastic to raise £1 for every mile cycled.’

Father of two and keen member of Ilkley Cycling Club, 44-year-old Neil had some time to spare before starting his new job, and set himself the challenge to raise money for Martin House Children’s Hospice and Médecins Sans Frontières.

About Martin House Children's Hospice
Local charity Martin House provides family-led care for children with life shortening conditions. It’s a place where children, young people and their families can stay from time to time along their journey and find support, rest and practical help.

About Médecins Sans Frontières
Médecins Sans Frontières translates into English as ‘Doctors Without Borders’. They help people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from healthcare.

Speaking about his decision to support these charities, Neil commented: ‘I was moved by the sacrifices made by the emergency medical workers during the recent Ebola outbreak. The teams from Médecins Sans Frontières put their own lives on the line in horrendous conditions, and managed to save the lives of nearly 2,500 people. 

I also wanted to support a charity a little closer to home, and decided on Martin House because they do such a fantastic job to support local families, especially children.’

A word from the director
Roger Copley, store director at Specsavers in Ilkley, commented: ‘When Neil told us why he needed the glasses, the team didn’t hesitate not only to provide him with the best solution possible, but to do so free of charge. We’ve also donated £100 to each of the charities Neil is supporting. 

Having tried a few products, glasses with reaction lenses worked best for Neil. The lenses cleverly adapt to light conditions: indoors, they are clear but as soon as you step outside into bright, natural light, they darken, giving you 100% UV protection.

We encourage all our customers to seek advice in-store when choosing the right glasses to protect their vision over the summer and during sport. Without appropriate eye protection, harmful rays can have a serious effect on the health of the eye, and can lead to problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration and skin cancer.

We wish Neil the very best of luck with his challenge and look forward to hearing all about it on his return.’

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