Seaton optician looks back over 30 years

Staff at Bennett and Rogers enjoy a landmark birthday party

A SEATON opticians was the focus of birthday celebrations last week.

Staff at Bennett and Rogers, in Fore Street, reckon they have tested over 10,000 eyes since they opened 30 years ago, this month.

To mark their special anniversary, their longest standing customer, Brenda Potter, was rewarded with a free pair of designer spectacles.

And a small celebration was held in the shop, with a beautiful cake made by Hazel Stapleforth, of Hawkchurch, and flowers provided by Mark Hammett, of Just Flowers Seaton Ltd, in Queen Street.

Also making a special appearance was eight-month-old Grace Shakespeare, who is Bennett and Roger’s youngest customer.

Practice owner and optical expert Lloyd Bennett said he had witnessed a number of changes to businesses in the Seaton area, but none more so than at his own practice.

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He said: “When I first started out in Seaton in 1981 we had one receptionist, a part-time optometrist and me working extremely long days.

“We then moved to larger premises in 1985 and later expanded further using the first floor for offices and consulting rooms.

“I rarely get time to look back over Seaton’s history but when I do it’s amazing how much has changed.

“We have, unfortunately, seen many businesses come and go in our time in Seaton - there are probably less than a dozen other professional businesses that have been established for 30 years or more in the town.”

But Lloyd says that during the past three decades there have been beneficial changes in his profession.

He added: “A significant amount of our work in the early 1980s involved the supply of restrictive NHS lenses and NHS frames priced at just 76p each.

“With the removal of NHS frames and lenses in the mid 80s, the variety and development of both frames and lens designs altered dramatically and continue to do so.

“The eye examination has become more intensive, we use equipment that measures visual fields, pressures and supply detailed photographic recordings of the back of the eye rather than hand sketched - this has improved diagnostic techniques massively.”

Lloyd and his partner Daren Rogers joined forces around 15 years ago and now employ 22 staff.

They have practices in Seaton, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth and Axminster.

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