Optometrist and store director Rama Venkat was joined by his entire family as they all had either their heads shaved or hair cut as part of National Eye Health Week (18-24 September), raising more than £1,000 for Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

Going for the chop

Rama had his head shaved while Rama’s wife Sai, practice manager, and their daughter Thrinayani, who used to work at the store, also showed their support by having 13 inches and 10 inches cut off respectively. This was then donated to the Little Princess Trust who make real hair wigs for children suffering from cancer and other illnesses. Making it a complete family affair, Rama and Sai’s 13-year-old son Thrilokesh, had RNIB shaved into the side of his head.

Two Burnham hairdressers, Hair of the Dog and Bos Hair and Color Bar, kindly came along to the store to make the chop in front of the gathered audience which included customers, staff and RNIB representatives. Special guest Sooty, RNIB’s long-time mascot, also made an appearance on the day and even had his eyes tested.  

Customers were able to take part in a tombola on the day, with the chance of winning prizes which were generously donated by a huge number of businesses in the town. This, along with a ‘guess the number of contact lenses in the jar’ competition and a ‘guess where I’m from’ competition to win a cuddly lion, will be running until the end of the month for customers to have a go.

A word from Rama

‘We’ve been fundraising for RNIB for quite a few months now but to surpass our original target of £500 and to have raised more than £1,000, wth more money still coming in, is just fantastic,’ said Rama. ‘On behalf of everyone, I’d like to say a huge thank you for the donations and I know the RNIB will be very grateful to receive the money.

‘We wanted to do something as part of National Eye Health Week to help raise awareness of the work that the charity does, as well as highlighting the importance of looking after your eyes and making sure people have regular sight tests. It’s been a really fun day in store and the whole team has enjoyed getting involved. To have Sooty here as well has been great.

‘Even if you think there’s nothing wrong with your vision, a sight test is an important health check and can pick up a variety of conditions, including glaucoma and diabetes, so I’d encourage people to make sure they are visiting an optician every two years,’ concluded Rama. 

The State Of The Nation Eye Health 2017: A Year in Review report, launched ahead of National Eye Health Week (18 – 24 September), is an annual benchmark of Britain’s eye health by RNIB and Specsavers, who joined forces in 2016 to raise awareness of the importance of eye health at every level to help prevent avoidable sight loss.

While a YouGov survey commissioned for the report suggests 1.1 million more people took action to improve their eye health by visiting an optician since the campaign launched last September, there is much still to be done.

You can still sponsor Rama, Sai, Thrinayani and Thrilokesh, by visiting their sponsorship page or by popping into the store.

All Burnham-on-Sea store information