Big-hearted optician staff are a sight for sore eyes

Left to right: Laura Williams, Neil Drain, Arisha McGuigan, Drew McCallum, Anisah Zahid.
Left to right: Laura Williams, Neil Drain, Arisha McGuigan, Drew McCallum, Anisah Zahid.

Big-hearted staff at an opticians got on their bikes to help two colleagues improve eye care in an impoverished area of South Africa.

The intrepid bunch from Specsavers in Kirkintilloch raised more than £700 by 
cycling from the Cowgate store to the Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk and back.

The 50-mile fundraising trip will help Drew McCallum (21) and Anisah Zahid (20) get on board the mobile healthcare unit, “Phelophepa Train of Hope” this year.

Anisah, from Bishopbriggs, and Drew from Cumbernauld, who work part-time at the local opticians, need a total of £1500 to make the journey.

They will be volunteering in the train’s eye clinic during their two-week trip.

Anisah will be making the journey to South Africa to volunteer in July and Drew in September.

Kirkintilloch store director Neil Drain says: ‘We’d like to thank everyone who has donated and we’re very pleased to be able to contribute more than £700 towards the cost of the trips.

“There’s not long to go before Anisah will be jetting off to South Africa – I know she’ll be fantastic help to the Train of Hope team and we wish Drew all the best for his trip later in the year too.”

With over 40 permanent staff and numerous volunteers, the train is much 
more than just a mobile hospital.

It provides out-reach and educational programmes and has thus far reached 23.5 million people since it rolled out in 1994, which makes it the worlds biggest mobile clinic.

Now in its 18th year, the Phelophepa has grown from three cars to an impressive 18-car train delivering primary health care, education and outreach programs including: HIV/AIDS education.

Additional services include training community volunteers in basic healthcare and screening/educating local schoolchildren.

A spokesperson for the charity spoke of the support it receives from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah, as the long-time patrons of the 
Phelophepa Train, they have been instrumental in bringing 
attention and support to the project.

He said: “Both, have worked long and hard to bring to life their fundamental belief that everyone deserves the blessing of what the word “Phelophepa” means — good, clean health!

Specsavers support several UK charities including Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Sound Seekers, 
the road safety charity Brake, the anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Vision Aid 
Overseas,.

Stores have also raised enough funds to build a school of optometry in Zambia and open eyecare outreach clinics in much of the country.