Vision Express has unveiled its newly refurbished Hounslow store with help from a special guest – childhood eye cancer survivor Drew-Alexander Wisdom-Murray, who was just 18 months old when he had life-saving surgery to remove his right eye.
In August 2012, Shepperton youngster, Drew-Alexander, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer, in both eyes. Sadly, by the time the cancer was detected, the tumour in his right eye was so large, the only option was to remove the eye, to save his life.
Over the years, Drew-Alexander has needed further treatment, including chemotherapy, cryotherapy, laser therapy and radiotherapy, but has fortunately not had to have any for the last six months.
Despite his early setbacks in life, he is still an extremely active little boy who loves taking part in sport, including golf, football, swimming, gymnastics and running. His mum, Jennie Wisdom, says: “My little star is not going to let this beat him or stop him doing things.”
As an ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), Drew-Alexander, now six, was invited, along with his mum, to help the Vision Express Hounslow team celebrate the reopening of its store, after an extensive renovation. The optician has been trading from its High Street premises for almost 20 years.
Drew-Alexander performed a ribbon cutting, as guest of honour, officially declaring the new-look store open. He and Jennie were welcomed by store manager Malvinder Grewal and the rest of the Hounslow optical team, which has over 100 years of combined experience at the store.
Malvinder said: “We had a fantastic day celebrating our reopening and it was a pleasure to welcome Drew-Alexander and Jennie to cut the ribbon with us. It’s fantastic to have upgraded facilities so we can continue to offer local residents a thorough and individual vision care service.
“We’ve previously raised money for CHECT with a cake sale, so it was great to have Drew-Alexander in store, in his role as an ambassador for the charity, to be able to raise further awareness. I can’t put into words how brave Drew-Alexander is. He doesn’t let what he’s been through phase him – he’s an inspiration to us all.”
Vision Express was the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if Rb is suspected. The national optical retailer has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness of Rb and drive donations for the charity, so they can help more families affected.