Optician drives home road safety message with eye-catching high-visibility vests for schoolchildren

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AN optician at Stretford Mall is putting road safety in the frame by donating almost 200 high-visibility vests to local schoolchildren.

Steve Arran, store director at Specsavers in Stretford Mall, has provided English Martyrs’ Roman Catholic Primary School in Urmston with 120 vests.

A further 45 vests are being donated to Forest Gate Academy in Partington to increase the safety of schoolchildren.

They will enable the pupils to be seen more easily by motorists when they’re out and about on school trips.

“Even by the time the children are coming out of school in the afternoon it’s already dark and that becomes an issue for drivers seeing them,” said Steve, who has run the store since it opened 23 years ago.

“The potential for accidents increases considerably during the darker nights. The purpose of the high-visibility vests is to enable the children to be seen more easily. It helps to promote a safer environment for them while out and about with school.

“I remember taking my own children to school all those years ago and the road where the school was based was an absolute nightmare, there were always problems with parking.

“Anything to give the children more of a chance of being safe is to be welcomed.”

A team of children, including four Year 5 road safety officers from English Martyrs Primary School visited the Stretford Mall opticians to collect the high-visibility vests, and take a guided tour of the consulting rooms and where the glasses are made.

Headteacher Carole Partington said: “I’m so pleased to be working with Specsavers and the community, promoting the children’s awareness of road safety.

“Our road safety officers deliver the message of safety through the school and it’s great they have something to work with in the high-visibility vests.

“We have terrible parking problems outside the school and I’m always talking to parents and children about road safety.

“Anything we can do to promote the children’s safety is good. When the children go out and walk around the community they will now have a high-visibility vest to wear.

“It’s just an additional element of safety, particularly with the darker nights. With school budgets being what they are there’s no money left to spend on things like this so this is a real bonus.”

This is the second year Specsavers has donated the high-visibility vests nationally to improve road safety. Last year, the Stretford Mall branch donated the vests to a local Beavers group and another primary school in the area.

Gareth Wilkins, centre manager at Stretford Mall said: “I’m very pleased that two local schools are to benefit once again from this road safety scheme. Being seen is important for staying safe, particularly during these winter months.”

Steve, 62, from Whitefield in Manchester added: “Specsavers as a group is huge and there are 1,200 stores but we consider ourselves to be part of the community in Stretford. We’ve been here as a practice for 23 years now and a lot of people know us. We want to be able to do our bit,” said.

“My own granddaughter is eight this January and it’s a priority in my own mind as far as road safety is concerned. Her mother is a police officer and when she goes out she also wears a high-visibility vest so she understands how important it is to be seen.”

For information about Stretford Mall go to www.stretfordmall.com follow @StretfordMall on Twitter or visit the centre’s Facebook page.

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