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Waringstown family pay tribute to Portadown opticians who have helped during pandemic

Ben Johnston

A Waringstown family have issued a heartfelt thanks to a Portadown opticians for their precious help during the current coronavirus pandemic.

The Johnston family say they are indebted to Michael Kennedy and the team at Portadown Specsavers for helping their son Ben is ventilated via tracheostomy.

Registered nurse and mum of three, Ciara, says: ‘My ten year old son Ben is ventilated via tracheostomy and a portable ventilator, is a wheelchair user.

“Myself and husband Andy made the decision to self-shield our family at a much earlier stage to help protect Ben.

“For everyday living, studying and enjoying life, glasses are of the utmost importance to Ben – he simply can’t do without them. He’d completely broken his specs, and of course, we had no way of getting to the store.”

Said Ciara: “We’ve been customers at Portadown Specsavers for around seven years and optometrist Michael knows Ben and our family very well.

“We were aware that Specsavers was open for emergency and essential eye care only and made a quick call to the store and Ben’s replacement specs arrived in the post a couple of days later.

“When Ben was very young we used to trek up to Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for regular eye check-ups but since he was three Michael Kennedy and the team at Specsavers have been looking after Ben’s eye health.

“They are all so welcoming and supportive, and Michael devotes a lot of time to Ben on each appointment, and if we need help in between appointments they are only a phone call away.

“Under normal circumstances we’d be in and out of the store more regularly. As Ben can be hard on his glasses, replacement specs are a necessity. Ben is very sociable and loves watching television, using devices, reading books and getting out and about, so his glasses and good eye health really are a lifeline.”

Ciara said the Specsavers team are really worth their weight in gold and have very much appreciated their help in these very unusual times – and throughout the years too.

“I’d particularly like to thank Michael, the ophthalmic director, Zenia, and Alanna, who is currently studying to be an optometrist but is also working at Specsavers,” Ciara continued.

Ben Johnston

“In these testing times for everyone I felt it was a chance to thank Specsavers as it’s really lovely to know that they are there for us.”

Specsavers’ teams are classed as key workers to provide urgent and essential eye care to those who need it. This includes supporting other key workers who couldn’t function without our help and people who would come to harm without our health expertise, especially where the usual hospital services and NHS facilities are being prioritised for the fight against COVID-19.

Retail director, JP Rice, explained: “We’ve supported a number of key workers including an ICU doctor who needed new glasses and a nurse who requires contact lenses to do her job.

“As we are only providing essential and urgent services, we have suspended all routine eye and hearing tests and are urging people to phone our stores in the first instance.”

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