A mum whose little girl had her eyesight saved after developing a rare childhood cancer is backing opticians at the Quadrant Shopping Centre to raise awareness of the disease.
Ruby Richards, now aged nine, was just a year old when she was diagnosed with eye cancer.
But the little girl from Porthcawl endured chemotherapy which saved here eye and her life and now mum Jo Richards is supporting a cycling fund-raiser by staff at Vision Express in Swansea’s busy Quadrant Centre.
The incredible spirit and bravery of the Richards family helped inspire staff and branch manager David Curtis said: “Ruby has been made a charity champion for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust which is one of our company charities so we were keen to get involved in helping raise awareness as much as anything.”
David and colleague Shane Enoch will be holding a special fundraising day on Saturday (February 6) when they will attempt to cycle a static bike for the whole day.
Between them they will keep the pedals turning from 9am to 5.30pm, jumping on and off in shifts, and hopefully raising plenty of funds for CHECT at the same time.
David said: “We will be getting some sponsorship beforehand but there will also be a collection going on during the day and we’ll be encouraging people to give a little something for our efforts.
“But it’s as much about raising awareness as anything as anything as it’s something not a lot of people know about.”
Jo Richards said: “Ruby was just over a year old when she was diagnosed and we had to go to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for treatment and the support we received from CHECT – the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust – has been fantastic.
“It is a very distressing time for parents because they the hospital have to act very quickly and it can mean having the eye removed or chemotherapy or both.
“Ruby had to have chemotherapy and that seemed to work fine with no surgery needed and she is fine now and has been in remission for seven years.
“CHECT had someone based at the hospital and she was able to offer us advice and support and the charity gives financial support as well.
“They were brilliant and I just want to try and support them as much as I can because I know what it’s like to have to deal with this.”
Jo is planning to attend the cycling day and to take her turn on the bike alongside the team at Vision Express.
David, aged 31 and from Bridgend, said: “I’ve been doing this job for 15 years now and we can diagnose a lot of things through ensuring people go for regular eye tests.
“We regularly refer customers to follow up with the hospital and an early diagnosis in these things can be what makes all the difference.
“Hopefully this event will help us make that point as it’s a message we can’t get across enough.”
Looking forward to the cycling challenge, David admits that he might find it difficult having let his fitness lapse in recent months.
He said: “I have got an exercise bike at home so I’ve been getting on that a bit beforehand but my usual style of biking is on one with an engine.
“Not only that I will be working on the day too, so when I’m not doing my stint pedalling I’ll probably be helping out and serving people too.”
Lisa Hartrley, Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, said: “It’s great the way the team at Vision Express have been inspired to support this little girl and her family.
“This must be a nightmare for parents and charities like CHECT do such wonderful work and I’m sure the generous people of Swansea will respond.”
To show your support for the cycling challenge, call in to the Quadrant Shopping Centre and make a donation at Vision Express.