Ipswich is celebrating in style following the announcement that the town is home to two regional finalists in Specsavers’ Spectacle Wearer of the Year competition.
Thousands of entrants
Joseph ‘Jobie’ Baker, 24, and Yvonne Harrigan, 52, were chosen out of thousands of entrants in the east of England who submitted a bespectacled selfie.
To mark their achievement, both Jobie and Yvonne were invited into their local Ipswich store on Carr Street – where they have both been loyal customers for several years – to each collect a prize of a Specsavers voucher worth £150, a certificate and a bottle of champagne.
Yvonne, a theatre assistant at Ipswich Hospital, has proven that her style is timeless after being shortlisted as a regional finalist for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, she was unable reach the grand finals last year but now has another shot at claiming the 2017 Spectacle Wearer of the Year title.
A glasses wearer for over 30 years, Yvonne is an avid fan of specs both for practical and style reasons. She says: ‘I’ve always been interested in having a nice pair of glasses that suited my face and I’ve always liked big glasses. I started small and, as I’ve got older, they’ve just got bigger and bigger. Eventually the women’s frames weren’t big enough so now I wear men’s.
‘If I had one piece of advice for other glasses wearers it would be not to be scared to go bold. You can be versatile now and I think glasses are one of the best accessories you can have.’
Jobie, lead singer of Reno & Rome, who have been featured on BBC Music’s Introducing show and Radio 2, has been a glasses wearer for four years after previously working in several industries that involved sitting in front of a screen, which started to affect his eyesight.
He says: ‘Luckily I love my glasses and I love selfies so the minute I saw the Spectacle Wearer of the Year competition I felt like it was calling my name.
‘Despite my love of selfies, the biggest draw for me was that every entry would result in £1 going towards anti-bullying charity Kidscape. My gran recently passed away and she was an avid supporter of charities, especially local ones.
‘I was lucky in that I wasn’t affected by bullying as by the point I had my glasses, I had already overcome a lot of self confirmation after coming out as gay and a few other personal troubles I’d been through. I’ve become much more confident in my early 20s and I love that I can express that through unique and stylish glasses.
‘If I had one piece of advice for anyone that was being bullied, it would be to find someone you trust and tell them what’s happening. Find a way together to figure out who to go to for help, and don’t worry about doing it. Always smile at everyone you meet and embrace your true personality. It's much more fun to be unique than follow the crowd.’
A word from the directors
Store directors Ming Tye and Mark Taggart congratulated the finalists in store. Ming says: ‘We’ve never had a SWOTY winner in store so to have two this year is amazing.
‘Both Yvonne and Jobie have unique styles and really highlight the way that one accessory can reflect your personality perfectly. Their stories are lovely and it’s nice to be able to put our customers in the limelight as they all wear their frames with pride.
‘Our number one priority will always be eye health and care but it’s so nice to be able to give a range of choice and style that makes wearing glasses no longer a chore, but instead a chance to look after your eyes with style. We wish them both the best of luck and are hoping to see them in the final.’