A chance conversation with a patient has seen a Specsavers optometrist travel overseas to provide eye care to children in Africa. 

Specsavers Hastings Optometrist Niall McCormack was seeing to a patient last year when he first heard about how the man and his wife were spending their retirement. The couple mentioned they had been working in an orphanage in Uganda and asked if he would be interested in visiting to treat the eyes of some of the children.

Having previously volunteered for The Fred Hollows Foundation, Niall thought it was a great opportunity to travel with his skillset and proceeded to purchase his own plane tickets. He spent one week at the Tamariki Learning Centre, a not-for-profit primary school in Kenya, before spending a second week in Uganda working in an orphanage.

“The kids were fantastic – just amazing,” Niall said. “They’re not hooked on digital devices, just outdoors playing like my generation used to do when I was a kid. They’re just very happy and very grateful for what they’ve got. It’s a different world.”

In total, Niall tested 260 children and 19 adults, managing to save many young eyes from developing potential vision loss as a result. He also brought footballs, pens and pencils donated from several local primary schools on the trip.

When asked why he had taken it upon himself to complete the trip, Niall said he didn’t understand why more people weren’t doing similar trips, adding that it was a lot of fun and that he believed he was the one who gained the most from it.

Niall’s values are shared by the Specsavers Hastings team. Earlier this year, the store was presented with a Specsavers Award for Excellence in recognition of its contribution to the community.

Specsavers regularly rewards and recognises store teams that embody the business’ core values of putting customers first, giving back to the community, demonstrating clinical excellence, and cultivating a positive and supportive team culture.