Mum and daughter keep Donington optician in the family

FAMILY FIRM: Directors Annica (left) and Cheryl Clark, with  optometrist Gary Pullan, of Clark Family Eyecare of Donington.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG150217-101TW.
FAMILY FIRM: Directors Annica (left) and Cheryl Clark, with optometrist Gary Pullan, of Clark Family Eyecare of Donington. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG150217-101TW.
  • Owner’s faith in village proven within seven years

Cheryl Clark has no fears about who will succeed her as managing director of Clark Family Eyecare in Donington.

The independent opticians in Market Place, within sight of a statue honouring Donington’s most famous son, Captain Matthew Flinders, and his pet cat Trim, has the word “Family” in its title for a very good reason.

Exactly two years after Cheryl opened the practice, her daughter Annica came on board and went on a steady rise from receptionist to qualified dispensing optician in just two years.

Annica said: “I was a hairdresser before I came to work at Clark Family Eyecare.

“I was ready for a new challenge in my life and when the business was looking for a receptionist, I was suggested to the directors by my mum.”

Cheryl said: “Within weeks of her starting work here and watching me dispense classes for our patients, Annica said ‘I don’t want to be sat here on reception, I want to be doing what you’re doing’.

VILLAGE OPTICIANS: Dispensing a range of frames, lenses and spectacles in Donington are Annica (left) Clark, Gary Pullan and Cheryl Clark.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG150217-100TW.

VILLAGE OPTICIANS: Dispensing a range of frames, lenses and spectacles in Donington are Annica (left) Clark, Gary Pullan and Cheryl Clark. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG150217-100TW.

“Annica’s like me in wanting to go into something for the challenge and now we’re a team, both at work and out of work.”

The family connection with Clark Eyecare also extends to Cheryl being the sister of Andy Molsom, of Molsom and Associates Optometrists in Spalding.

Cheryl said: “I fell into optometry (eye care) after I left school and was given first refusal on a job as a receptionist.

“Even though I had no thoughts at all about becoming an optometrist when I left school, I enjoyed the job and progressed through it so that, 30-plus years later, I bought this practice completely.

My ambition has always been to open up a practice with my brother and I didn’t have any reservations about doing it in Donington

Cheryl Clark, owner and managing director, Clark Family Eyecare, Donington

“We opened the doors of Clark Eyecare in Donington on May 21, 2008, when it was a partnership with my brother, Andy.

“Annica joined in May 2010 having become a fully qualified dispensing optician in May 2012. She’s now a co-director of the business.”

Annica said: “All my friends were really proud of me when I qualified, but it’s also brought Mum and me a lot closer together than we were before.

“I’m still learning as I’ve never had anything to do with the management-side of a business before.

“But in what we want the business to be, we’re very similar, whilst also able to play devil’s advocate with each other’s ideas.”

At its heart, Clark Eyecare offers its patients eye examinations and tests for eye sensitivity disorders, retina scans, contact lenses and a range of frames, single, bifocal and varifocal lenses and sunglasses.

It also offers NHS Enhanced Services under Primary Eye Care (Lincs), a scheme where patients can be referred onto an NHS-accredited optometrist in order to investigate and treat minor eye conditions.

Cheryl said: “There are a lot of elderly people who haven’t always got transport which is partly why we added NHS Enhanced Services, as well as normal NHS eye examinations.

“If someone comes in, who has seen any optician in the area, and that optician isn’t 100 per cent sure of an eye condition, they get referred to Primary Eye Care (Lincs) which sends them to an optometrist in the area.

“This reduces waiting times for appointments at an accident and emergency hospital, along with travel time, parking and clogging up the NHS system.”

Just like Captain Flinders and Trim, Clark Eyecare has become a Donington success story because of its commitment to providing a “personally and friendly, but professional and full service”, according to Annica.

She added: “Our business is to educate people, both in Donington and the surrounding area, about the importance of eye health.

“A lot of people don’t understand how important it is to have their eyes tested every two years and for their children to do so at a young age so that if their eyes aren’t developing properly, we can do something for them.”

Not everyone shared the confidence of Cheryl Clark in believing that Donington was big enough to have its own opticians’ centre.

Cheryl said: “My ambition has always been to open up a practice with my brother Andy Molsom and I didn’t have any reservations about doing it in Donington.

“Even though I didn’t know the village then as I do now, I had confidence it would work because I knew that my brother’s practice in Spalding had a certain amount of customers who were from Donington.

“I’ve been proven right.”

Next week’s featured business will be Corner House Flowers of Donington.