Optician director’s spec-tacular recovery merits special award

OWNERS of a successful Saddleworth opticians overcame adversity to grow their company despite co-founder Stephen Tighe contracting a life-threatening illness just months after opening its doors.

Sheryl Doe and Stephen Tighe (Allegro Optical Limited)

Allegro Optical, with branches in Greenfield and Meltham, provides a unique optical service to musicians and performers worldwide as well as local eye-care.

Now the thriving business has picked up the Chairman’s Special Award at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards at Battersea Evolution in London.

The award was given to a business that has faced and overcome major difficulties.

Managing director Stephen, who co-founded the business with partner Sheryl Doe, fell seriously ill in 2017 just months after opening the practice in Meltham and spent almost three months in hospital.

Despite musician Stephen’s life support machine being switched off, he beat the odds and recovered – and amazingly has now returned to work full-time.

Stephen’s illness meant Sheryl, managing director and dispensing optician, had to run and grow the business on her own.

Despite the adversity and daily hospital visits she managed to keep the opticians open six days per week.

The business works with The Royal Northern College of Music, Halle Orchestra and Huddersfield Philharmonic to help musicians who struggle to focus on printed music and written notation due to eye conditions.

Known as the ‘musician’s optician’, they are the first and only opticians to become registered British Association of Performing Arts Medicine practitioners.

Allegro Optical, which employs 14 people, now works with musicians from major international ensembles including English National Ballet Philharmonic and Dublin RTE Concert Orchestra.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “This is an incredible story of a family business defeating the odds, not only managing to continue and grow their company, but overcoming adversity.

“The whole team, led by Sheryl and Stephen have pulled together to make sure Allegro Optical is a success.”

Sheryl and Stephen said: “It’s been a tough couple of years since we opened our first bricks and mortar store in 2017, but the family worked together and the business continued to grow.

“We’re really proud of how the business has grown so far and with 69 professional musical ensembles in the UK alone we know our market is large.”

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