1 February 2013: A budding Belfast gymnast, aged 12, has been named the winner in a nationwide competition run by Vision Express, and will soon be heading off to Disneyland Paris as part of her prize.
India Atkinson was selected from over 400 children across the UK, following regional auditions for the Vision Express ‘Search for a Star Pupil' competition. Her prize includes a trip with her family to the Disneyland theme park in France, plus a pair of designer glasses.
The ‘Star Pupil' contest - in conjunction with Vision Express charity partner the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) - raised awareness of the importance of child eye tests, following an NHS report revealing that just one in five children undertake the free eye tests they are entitled to.
Auditions were held at ten Vision Express stores across the UK country, in a bid to find a youngster with an ‘eye' for style, who adores eyewear, has bags of attitude and is an inspiring influence on others. Entrants had professional photographs taken in-store, striking a pose wearing frames.
India, who is a pupil at Victoria College, was selected as the Belfast store winner in the regional heat and was then hand-picked as the ‘best of the best' from the ten finalists, between the ages of four to fifteen.
Judging the entries were Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO and Joy Felgate, Chief Executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, who were overwhelmed by India's positive outlook and determination.
Born without fingers on her left hand, India's lifelong dream is to become a top gymnast and she recently represented Belfast, scooping a silver medal at the national Disabilities Gymnastics competition. Not content with her sporting prowess, India also spends her free time working at local youth club and attends the 41st Belfast girl guides.
India's mum Tracey said of the win: "We're absolutely thrilled - India is over the moon! We've never won anything before and we can't wait for summer now we have a family trip to Disneyland Paris to look forward to."
Jonathan Lawson commented: "India is a shining example of what this initiative stands for; not only is she an exemplary pupil at school but she has a positive attitude to life, contributing to her local community and following her dreams of becoming a gymnast. She's a very worthy winner.
"We launched the ‘Search for a Star Pupil' competition to raise awareness of the importance of child eye tests. With latest NHS figures* showing only 20 per cent of eligible children are having this vital health check, we wanted to urge parents to add a visit to the optician to their back to school checklist."
*Report from The Health and Social Care Information Centre, General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics, published July 2012.
All content and images © Vision Express 1988 - 2013