A road safety campaigner and father from Southend has beaten hundreds of applicants from the East of England to be named as a regional finalist for the renowned Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards.

Campaigning for vigilance on the roads

Originally from Northern Ireland, 47-year-old Gareth Gault, has lived in Southend for 15 years and is a strong advocate of having regular sight checks after he was involved in a life-threatening road incident caused by someone who should not have been driving due to poor vision.

Gareth spent three years in and out of hospital after he was hit by a car at the age of seven. It was this, he says, that prompted him to enter the annual competition hosted by Specsavers in aid of children’s charity, Kidscape. He has been selected as a regional finalist in the 45-59 age category.

Gareth was invited to Specsavers in Southend to meet store director John Staunton who presented him with a bottle of Champagne and an eyewear voucher worth £150.

An inspiration

John is thrilled to see one of his customers going through to the next stage of the judging process. ‘Gareth is a true ambassador, not only for glasses wearers across the country, but also for those that have been affected by traffic accidents,’ he said. ‘Being involved in a road accident at such a young age has had a massive impact on Gareth’s life, but it’s great to see him sharing his story and championing regular sight checks. On behalf of the team I’d like to wish him all the best for the next stage of the competition.’

Gareth, who campaigns for road safety charity Brake, shares his views on wearing glasses, and on why regular visits to the optician is so important: ‘The man whose car hit me when I was a child had been told not to drive by his doctor as he had a blind spot and was wearing an eye patch. The car dragged me along the ground and rested on top of me. A passer-by asked him to reverse off of me and took me to the hospital. If I’d waited for an ambulance – even though it was only a mile and half to the hospital – I’d have died.

‘I’m really passionate about people having regular sight checks. Not only for road safety reasons, but also because they can pick up various problems with eye health too. I’d love to be selected as the overall Spectacle Wearer of the Year and hope that I can encourage others to take their sight health seriously.’

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