Bingley-based eyewear specialist Graham Bennett of Kenyon Opticians is celebrating 30 years of pioneering service to his local community. During his time in practice, he has booked 113,000 appointments and fitted 42,000 pairs of glasses. And he is just getting into his stride!
Graham has always focused on high quality clinical care and his pioneering work has included commissioning one the first specialist eye scanning machines, outside of a hospital environment, in the region.
Graham explains: “Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging technology that uses reflected light to create 3D images of the back of the eye. It can be used to diagnose and manage diseases like diabetes-related retinopathy and glaucoma. I’m delighted that we were early pioneers in this valuable medical technology and our latest OCT device matches the specifications of Bradford Royal Infirmary’s equipment, something that is not necessarily the case elsewhere.”
Graham was recently awarded the Clinell NHS Heroes Award for his commitment to community optician service during Covid. He ensured that all his patients and those requiring urgent treatment received valuable eyecare.
Over the last 30 years, Graham has witnessed huge changes within the industry he loves.
Graham arrived at Kenyon Opticians as a fresh-faced student just out of college in 1992. He then went from pre-registered Dispensing Optician via employee to partner and now owner, of what is regarded as an optical institution in Bingley.
Previous owner, David Kenyon, who in 1974 started eyecare based in Bingley, was all about the clinical service in his 1980s traditional, local family orientated practice. That said, he was always progressive with equipment and testing facilities, and he recognised the same progressive ideals in Graham.
Graham says: “We are very committed to the highest quality of clinical care. All eye examinations are performed by one of our fully qualified and experienced opticians. This is important because at some high street chains, patients will first see a technician, not an optician. We’re proud to remain different.”
The de-regulation of opticians in 1989 allowed opticians to market their services and prompted Graham to embrace the emerging fashion market. His practice transformed the eyewear of Bingley’s NHS reliant community. Giorgio Armani became the first of many branded specs in the store. People became proud of their eyewear style. It proved a revolutionary move.
Soon, branding became less influential, and, in Graham’s opinion, products started to look all the same just with different names on them, a complaint he still holds today. So, he took the decision to widen the range of frames he could present to patients from what was available in the UK to what was being made worldwide.
Whilst attending Silmo, a Paris based international eyewear show in 2004, he was thrilled by the diversity and individuality of the independent eyewear packed inside eight NEC style halls. This was and still is the inspiration for all Graham’s carefully selected eyewear collections. Because of this approach you are likely to find many products that you have never seen anywhere else.
Graham says that the success of his practice is based on getting to know their clients individually and providing that personal touch. Graham recalls: “One of my very first patients was a four year old boy. He had very specific needs and I ended up making him some industrial strength Kevlar specs! He is now in his thirties and teaches people how to jump out of planes for the RAF. I still test his eyes along with three generations of his extended family.”
This is what longevity brings to a community.
Graham has always set himself goals. His next one is a big one. To beat his mentor’s ‘40 years of service to the Bingley Community’. Here’s to the next 10 years!