Sweet success for contact lens supervisor

A contact lens supervisor has been nominated for an award after her patience and dedication – and a Pink Jammie doughnut – helped a young boy to wear lenses.

Bethan Gray, contact lens supervisor in Cowbridge in Wales, was nominated for the company’s Customer First Award for her work with a 9-year-old boy.

Bethan, 24, took on the role of CL Supervisor when the Cowbridge store opened in March 2018. She had spent the previous three years working as an optical assistant in Talbot Green and Caerphilly, after leaving university with a BA in Sport and Social Sciences.

She says: ‘Part of my role is to teach people how to put contact lenses in and take them out. I like teaching – I enjoy the interaction. I’m quite patient and I don’t like giving up!

‘I’ve taught a few children, usually so they can wear lenses for sport. Sometimes they’re easier to teach than adults as they usually listen to my advice, whereas adults sometimes think they know best! I enjoy working with children – I did a lot of work experience in schools during my degree and considered training to be a primary school teacher.

‘This boy was the youngest child I’ve taught. He’s been a customer for some years and has quite a high prescription. He plays a lot of sport, particularly rugby, and he was determined to try contact lenses as he was sick of his glasses falling off and breaking. I was determined to help him!

‘He could remove the lenses okay, but he wasn’t very confident about inserting them and would close his eyes at the last second.

‘He’s a little bit cheeky and quite trendy with blond hair shaved round the sides and a man bun! The first time I met him he was eating a doughnut from the bakery next door, so I joked that if he managed to put the lenses in I would buy him a doughnut.’

The boy did manage to insert the lenses once during his hour-long appointment, so Bethan kept her promise and bought him his favourite Pink Jammie doughnut!

However, he needed to insert and remove both lenses three times in total before he was allowed to take them home, so his parents scheduled a second appointment.

The next time she saw him, Bethan had everything ready. She says: ‘I made him a game, a bit like a treasure map. I drew six contact lenses and each time he got a lens in and out he could colour in one of my drawings and get a sweet. Each drawing led to another and the last one led to a treasure chest. When he reached the treasure chest he got a packet of chewy sweets to share with his brother and sister, who were with him. That meant they were keen for him to succeed as well.

‘He was a lovely boy and listened really well, but I think if we’d sat there for an hour without any incentives, he would eventually have given up. As it was, he loved it. It took the full hour to get the lenses in and out three times, but he did it. When he managed it, he was smiling so much and kept looking at his eyes in the mirror. He was happier about the lenses than the sweets.

‘Later, the family came back and gave me a pack of doughnuts to say thank you! It made me laugh. I felt like I’d accomplished something too.’

Bethan, who has completed Cert 3 and Cert 4, is on the path to becoming a Dispensing Optician and would love to become a Contact Lens Optician (CLO). ‘I’m happy in my job, but I want to progress,’ she says. ‘My dream is to become a CLO.’

Hannah Davies, retail director in Cowbridge, nominated Bethan for the Customer First Award. She says: ‘I was very touched by the lengths that Bethan went to with this young boy – she had a lot of patience and it resulted in him successfully wearing contact lenses. She’s very good with children in the store – she has a natural gift that enables her to interact with them.

‘This is definitely the kind of service I’d like to encourage at Cowbridge. We’ve had excellent customer feedback since we opened and our aim is to engage with the community and offer a personalised, bespoke service to our customers.’

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