CHECT has received a £105,000 boost from Vision Express, after a year-long fundraising drive to mark the 25th anniversary of the optical retailer.
Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson announced the fundraising tally and presented a cheque to Joy Felgate, chief executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) in Nottingham on February 24, 2014.
The donation was the result of a major fundraising initiative which brought together more than 4,000 staff across its UK-wide store network to raise money to help CHECT support families and individuals affected by the rare form of childhood eye cancer retinoblastoma.
A national focus of celebrations was a 200-mile fundraising cycle called 'Ride4Sight', which was tackled by a team of 40 volunteers, peddling from the company's first store in Gateshead to the Nottingham head office. Four-time former Olympic cycling medallist Bryan Steel helped train the team and completed the journey riding tandem with Paralympian and CHECT patron Darren Harris. Both were present to celebrate the donation being officially made to the charity.
Accepting the cheque, Joy Felgate said: "This fundraising total is a truly amazing result and is testament to the hard work of the Vision Express team. It will make a huge difference to the vital help and support we can give to those whose lives have been affected by this life-threatening condition.
"CHECT has been the nominated charity of Vision Express since 2010 and over that time the relationship has gone from strength to strength. We're thrilled that Vision Express has committed to building on this fundraising further in the next 12 months and will continue to help educate others about retinoblastoma."
Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson said: "We chose to mark our 25-year trading milestone in a meaningful way, and we're delighted that we've smashed our fundraising target and can present a cheque for over £105,000 to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.
"I'm extremely proud that employees across the company have rolled up their sleeves to plan fundraisers, hold raffles, dress up in costumes and cycle through wind and rain, in a combined effort to raise money and enable us to make this donation.
"And we aren't stopping there. Over the next 12 months we've set ourselves targets to raise even more, and we've established a dedicated charity committee to drive fundraising forward within the business so we can continue to make a difference."
Vision Express was the first optician in the UK to adopt a company-wide protocol alerting all store staff to the signs of retinoblastoma in a bid to reduce delays in diagnosis.
Many thanks to the dozens of CHECT ambassadors who have helped and continue to support Vision Express events up and down the country.
Article by Mr Manoj Parulekar, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Birmingham Children's Hospital
Despite many advances in the treatment of retinoblastoma, some cases will present at an advanced stage and require surgery to remove the eye (enucleation). It is essential to give the affected individual the best possible surgical result, and follow it up with optimum artificial eye(prosthesis) fitting.
Currently prostheses are made of PMMA (Poly methyl methacrylate). The cosmesis and colour match can be very good, but PMMA is a heavy material. In some cases where the artificial eye needs to be larger to compensate for volume deficiency or to lift up a droopy eyelid, the large eye can, over a period of time stretch the lower eyelid.
Another issue is colour matching. Although the colour matching in most eyes is very good, it can be a challenge in eyes with mixed colours eg hazel.
A third issue is rotational stability. It is not uncommon for prosthesis to rotate within the socket due to unusual socket shapes.
As part of the socket service in Birmingham Children’s Hospital, we deal with difficult sockets, both post enucleation as well as for children born without eyes (anophthalmia), and are working on ways to improve the results for these cases.
We are currently exploring 3D printing technology as a potential method. However, there are several hurdles including availability of suitable biomaterials that will pass the medical device specification, as well as achieving true to life colour match. Another idea is to create a soft foldable (but sufficiently firm) artificial eye that can be folded and inserted into the socket.
This is an open call to friends and families of the CHECT community who might be able to provide us with contacts who have the technical knowledge to contribute to this endeavour.
We have launched a new initiative which we hope you will be able to join. It’s called ‘Friends of CHECT’.
Of course, if you are a member you are already a friend of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) but this is something a little different. ‘Friends of CHECT’ is designed to formally recognise how much we value our members and supporters, whilst at the same time addressing the need for secure funding.
Over the last 25 years our funds have come mostly from individuals or through fundraising activities. CHECT receives no Government funding and has very little regular, predictable income. However, most of our costs are still regular and have to be maintained. This absence of guaranteed income makes it very difficult for us to respond to everything our members tell us is important and making the changes we would like is not always possible.
With a donation from as little as £3 per month you can join our ‘Friends of CHECT’ programme and this would help our GP awareness campaign reach the widest possible audience or set up a network of support for Rb teenagers. If a little more was given each month, we could develop solid future plans regarding research and support. You will then become a ‘Friend of CHECT’ and receive a lapel badge and a car sticker, which will raise awareness of Rb too. We will also send you regular updates on how your contribution is making a difference.
For more information and an application form click on the links below to download.
Time to get arty for Rb
In 2014 CHECT will be raising awareness of retinoblastoma through the Art 4 Eyes project, with several activities planned throughout the year, including a fantastic competition to win a share of £3,000 of prizes. Please do what you can to get involved and maybe you'll discover your inner artist at the same time!
Art4Eyes activities CHECT has planned include:
Enter our fantastic competition where schools and youth groups can win a share of £3,000 worth of prizes - including a bespoke photo shoot thanks to Clara Lou Photography and art supplies from Turners Arts. There are two age categories - 5 to 7 and 8 to 11 years and regional prizes to be won. We need your help to get schools in your community involved - please click here for more information and to download a letter to take to schools in your area.
Celebrity Eyes Artworks
Bespoke artworks created celebrities and artists around the theme of eyes. Any medium can be used but for those with little time we are creating an app which can be quickly downloaded and then used to design an amazing piece of digital art.
Art Exhibition and Auction
An art exhibition and auction will then take place in London during December where the winning schools artworks and celebrity pieces will be on display and up for grabs to the highest bidder. Watch this space for further details.
We have an exciting new opportunity with the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust for keen supporters, like yourself.
For many years the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust has benefitted from the goodwill and endless energy of its members to help connect families, and raise both awareness and funds.
Without this valued involvement from our volunteers over the past 25 years CHECT may never have grown into the strong, respected organisation it is today.
We are now looking to establish a team of ambassadors to take this work further and help CHECT achieve its aims. Our ambassadors can take on a variety of different roles, depending on their interests and skills. They will be supported by staff throughout and training will be given where necessary.
We hope our CHECT ambassadors will help increase the awareness work we carry out around the UK and improve the support service for members as well as create a network of fundraisers who can share ideas and skills.
We value the regular support we have received in the past and would like to recognise these efforts by inviting supporters to be considered as an ambassador for CHECT.
We have identified three key roles for our ambassadors and you may be interested in one or more of these roles. Below are links to three ‘role descriptions’ which further details our hopes and expectations for each area. Please take five minutes to read through and hopefully you will find a role or roles to suit you.
If you would like to become an ambassador for CHECT simply indicate on the registration form, which you can download below, tell us what skills you have and how you would like to contribute and return it to us. This will give us a better idea about how you would like to be involved. Perhaps you have helped us in one area before but would like a new challenge now.
This is a voluntary position, however all reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed. We will also provide you with an enamelled ‘CHECT ambassador’ lapel badge, a CHECT T-shirt and car sticker to help identify you when necessary.
If you would like to register your interest in becoming an ambassador for CHECT, download and complete the registration form below. Alternatively contact the office and we can post one out to you. Please let us know if you need help completing your form and we will be happy to do this for you.
We believe the role of a CHECT ambassador is extremely important and, as such, we hope you appreciate there are a list of requirements for the role, detailed below.
In the ambassador role you would be representing the trust and therefore we ask you to:
- Be a member of CHECT
- Promote CHECT wherever and whenever possible, provided that it is appropriate to the circumstances. This includes displaying the car sticker and wearing your CHECT T-shirt and badge;
- Abide by the policies of the trust that are in effect from time to time, including in relation to child protection, data protection and confidentiality;
- Provide references where the role requires;
- Use the good name and reputation of CHECT with respect and exercise a duty of care to protect that reputation;
- Participate in at least three ambassadorial activities in any year if possible;
- Read a CHECT ambassadorial agreement (to be sent at a later stage);
- Agree to your contact details being shared with other CHECT ambassadors to enable us to improve communications and organisation
We hope our ambassadors will be confident in their ability to represent the trust and help promote our causes and mission. It would be helpful, but not obligatory, for ambassadors to be willing to speak to press about their involvement with the trust should the opportunity arise.
We do hope you will take up this exciting opportunity and we look forward to hearing from you soon.