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Inspirational seven-year-old cancer survivor from Crawley is guest of honour at new store opening

A brave youngster who has battled a rare eye cancer helped Vision Express to re-open its East Grinstead store – raising awareness of an aggressive condition called retinoblastoma.

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Alicia Ferriera, centre with mum Laura, officially open the East Grinstead Vision Express store, with from left: Dispensing optician Jody Lewis, optical assistant Dan Morrissey, Monica Kalsi, optometrist and store manager Paul Lyne.

Alicia Ferriera, seven, from Crawley, West Sussex, was aged just two when she was diagnosed with the devastating condition, and had to have an eye removed as part of her cancer treatment.

Alicia Ferriera at the East Grinstead store.

Alicia was accompanied by her mother Laura Belton, to officially cut the ribbon at the Vision Express store in East Grinstead, West Sussex this month, as special guests from the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, which is a charity partner of Vision Express.

Mum Laura said:

“We found out that Alicia only had retinoblastoma in one eye and it wasn’t genetic. It all happened very quickly – she had the operation just a week after initial diagnosis.”

Since having her eye removed, the family have kept up regular appointments at The Royal London Hospital, initially every couple of months to now once a year for check-ups.

Laura said:

“Alicia is doing amazingly well and is just like other child at her age. She’s been doing karate for a year and a half now and is doing so well with it. She enjoys lots of walks, adventures and park trips and we’ve recently been to Cornwall where she was at the beach every day. Nothing will stop this girl!”

The ribbon cutting led by Alicia and Laura celebrated the Vision Express store’s recent extensive refit and marked the optician officially open to the public – in the same convenient location in London Road.

Vision Express East Grinstead store manager Paul Lyne added:

“It was brilliant to have Alicia and her mother Laura join us to officially declare our new store open. Her story of battling retinoblastoma, and the courage shown at such a young age, is an inspiration to us all.

“We’re proud to support the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust and we urge any parents that suspect retinoblastoma or notice any potential symptoms in their child, such as a white glow in their eye in certain lighting conditions or a squint, to visit their local opticians or GP.”

Education

Crawley’s Thomas Bennett Students Celebrate Christmas with a Winter Concert

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Students at Thomas Bennett Community College celebrated Christmas with an amazing Winter Concert held last night.

More than 25 students performed and showcased an amazing array of talent.  Performances included some Christmas classics as well a vast array of music and songs from all genres.

The school hall was packed to the rafters with family, friends and staff all of whom came to watch.  Decorated beautifully for Christmas the atmosphere in the school was fantastic.  The highlight of course was the students, whose talent was just incredible.  Students played a range of instruments including keyboard, guitar and drums.  There was also plenty of vocal performances from students whose outstanding talent was just phenomenal.

Lots of hard work and commitment went into making the evening such a success.  Students have been practising tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the event to ensure that they were able to perform with confidence.  The schools Sixth form students also played in a big part and helped organise the event and made sure it run smoothly. 

However, the concert wouldn’t have been such a huge success without the hard work of the schools entire music department.  Mr. Dobson, Ms. Wookey and Ms. Harvey all worked phenomenally hard to ensure that the evening was brilliant.  Their passion for music and teaching really shone through.

The event was the perfect way to finish the winter term. 

Headteacher, Stuart Smith said:

“The Winter Concert was just incredible.  I really couldn’t be prouder of the outstanding talent shown by the students last night.  The event was a real highlight of the year and wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Mr. Dobson and the music department.  We have some incredibly gifted students and watching them perform last night with such confidence was amazing to see.”

The whole school community enjoyed the experience so much that they are now busy thinking ahead and are getting ready to prepare for their Easter music concert.

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