Observatory Wardale Williams launched the Eye Smart Campaign in 2017, inspired by the experiences of two of our patients, Keira Dixon and Ralph McMurray.
When 16-year-old Keira Dixon came to Wardale Williams for an eye test in 2014, our Optometrist identified some abnormalities during her eye examination. He immediately referred her to hospital where she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and within five days underwent surgery. Keira underwent many radiotherapy sessions, lengthy periods of steroid treatment and MRI scans. She started university in 2017.
Sadly, despite this intensive treatment, Keira passed away in November 2018.
Wardale Williams worked with Keira and her family to launch the Keira Campaign in 2015, raising money for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children, young people and their families. CLIC Sargent is now called Young Lives vs Cancer. Keira’s brother Jamie ran the London Marathon in 2015, fundraising for the charity.
In 2019, our Haverhill branch set up the Big Haverhill Bike Ride, alongside Keira’s friend Tim Nash. This raised over £13,000. See below for more information about this fantastic event.
Retired Suffolk police officer Ralph McMurray had never had an eye test before, when he came into our Sudbury branch in 2016. Our Optometrist spotted a detached retina and referred him to hospital for further tests, which showed that Ralph had a tumour, a rare form of cancer called Ocular Melanoma.
Unfortunately, Ralph had to have his eye removed and was told that the harmful chromosome had got into his bloodstream, resulting in a 70% chance of developing tumours elsewhere within the next five years. Ralph’s condition is not curable and will return at some point. He has to have scans every six months to see if the cancer has returned.
There were no signs or symptoms prior to Ralph’s eye test and he had no reason to think anything was wrong – his eye sight was good and he had no pain or discomfort.
Ralph says, “I am now determined to do as much as I can to raise awareness of the importance of having regular eye tests, they are so important as they can pick up signs of so many potential illnesses. In cases such as mine, early diagnosis is crucial and the tumour would have been spotted much sooner had I been having regular eye examinations.”
Ralph’s wife Anne adds, “It is like a living time bomb, we are living in six month spells as we just don’t know what the next scan will show, it is very frightening. It feels like our world is falling apart some days but we are all trying to remain positive and that is why we want to bring this important issue into the public domain. If we can save one life it will be worth it”.
Ralph’s daughters Krystle and Jade have already raised more than £1,600 for cancer charities Cancer UK and OcuMel UK and are continuing to do so.
We joined forces with the Ralph and his family family and renamed the Keira Campaign as The Eye Smart Campaign to include the experiences of both Keira Dixon and Ralph McMurray.
Tim Nash, a friend of Keira’s, cycled from Hillsborough to Castle Hedingham to raise funds for St Helena.
St Helena helps people face incurable illness and supported Keira Dixon, who passed away in November 2018.
Tim, who used to teach at Samuel Ward Academy in the 1980s, knew Keira through their local pub in Castle Hedingham, the Bell Inn, where they had worked together behind the bar at the summer beer festival. When Tim found out what a huge Sheffield Wednesday fan Keira was, he wanted to purchase a bottle of ‘The Wednesday’ – the Owls’ official beer created in partnership with Thornbridge Brewery, to give to Keira.
Sadly, Keira never got the chance to try ‘The Wednesday’, so Tim embarked on a 190-mile bike ride to pay tribute to her.
On Saturday 13 July 2019, Tim picked up a bottle of the beer from Hillsborough. Then then cycled back to the Bell Inn in time for the start of the festival five days later, with help from Keira’s friends and family along the way.
The five-day ride passed through Nottingham, Melton Mowbray, Peterborough, Cambridge and Haverhill – stopping off at Observatory Opticians, the sister branch to Wardale Williams. He proceeded to Nethergate Brewery near Sudbury on the afternoon of the 17th July, and then on to The Bell in Castle Hedingham, in time for the opening of the festival.
Along the way, Tim raised money for St Helena, who supported Keira and her family, and who continue to support many others facing incurable illness. Tim’s original fundraising goal of £3,000 was quickly overtaken and he ended up raising over £13,000.
Observatory the Opticians in Haverhill also ran a fundraising campaign alongside Tim, raising £740 for St Helena. With the help from AeroCycles in the town, they installed turbo trainers in the practice and attempted (and succeeded) to cycle the same distance that Tim was doing. This was a great success, with many patients, local businesses and children joining in.
To donate to Young Lives vs Cancer (previously CLIC Sargent)
To donate to OcuMel UK