A dedicated 38-year-old optical assistant is embarking on a fundraising mission in a bid to support the efforts of the charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO).

Africa’s highest city

Scunthorpe born Emma Mcleary, who works for Specsavers Opticians and Audiologists in the town, will be travelling to Africa’s highest city, Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia this November to tackle a 10 mile run. She is in the process of raising vital funds to support her trip and to pledge to the charity.

‘I’m no runner, in fact, I’ve only ever been able to run 10 miles once so far in training, but I’m hopeful it will be ok on the day!’ said Emma, who has worked at the store for more than three years.

'I started running last year, mainly to see if I could and my passion has grown since then. When I spotted the race in Ethiopia it seemed like a challenge too good to pass over, especially considering I work in the field of optics.'

Focus on fundraising

Emma continues, ‘I’ll be travelling across on the 16 November and will have three days to acclimatise myself to the climate and humidity levels and get mentally prepared for the run. My training has been going well so far but a big focus is now on fundraising to ensure I can get there and, more so, to raise really vital and much needed funds for VAO.’

In a bid to help ensure Emma reaches her fundraising milestone of £2,600 Emma is hosting a charitable pie, peas and disco evening at Brumby Hall in Scunthorpe on 17 September with tickets priced at £10 per person.  The Specsavers team is busy organising an African themed fundraiser in store on 14 and 15 October where everyone is invited to pop in to enjoy an array of baked treats and try their luck at the raffle.

Impressive support

What’s more Dame Mary Perkins, who is the co-founder of Specsavers, has also personally pledged £1,000 to help Emma kick-start her fundraising efforts after hearing about her trip. VAO is already very close to Mary’s heart and a charity that she has personally contributed to for many years.

Emma added: ‘For Dame Mary to acknowledge my cause and pledge such an impressive amount of money to help get my fundraising off the ground is amazing, I’m so chuffed it means so much to me. Each year she hand selects 14 causes to support that are being championed by her Specsavers colleagues and I’m one of the lucky 14 – I can’t believe it!’

A word from the store director

Andrew Mortimer, store director at Scunthorpe Specsavers, commented: ‘We’re all immensely proud of Emma and I personally take my hat off to her for attempting this run. You cannot underestimate how different running 10 miles in the UK will be from attempting it in Ethiopia, the climate will be completely different, she’s made of stern stuff our Emma!

‘To say she only starting running as a hobby last year and now she’s signed herself up for this run is a major testament to her character, good nature and can-do attitude.

‘We’re fortunate enough in the UK to have fantastic eye care facilities and a lot of people take their sight for granted but without it, individuals in the developing world struggle to find work. The funds Emma is hoping to raise are vital, that’s why we’re doing all we can to help her and I would urge the people of Scunthorpe to come into store, join us for our pie and peas night or log on to her Just Giving page to show their support.’


Vision Aid Overseas is an international NGO (non-government organisation) based in the UK and working in six countries in Africa. It fights poverty by transforming access to eye care in developing countries.

Emma's fundraising page

Vision Aid Overseas

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