Stephen’s spec-tacular recovery merits special adversity award
Some of our readers may be aware that we recently picked up another award. This time it was the Chairman’s Special Award during the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards at Battersea Evolution in London in May. The award was given to a business that has faced and overcome major difficulties.
Allegro Optical’s Managing Director Stephen Tighe, who co-founded the business with partner Sheryl Doe, fell seriously ill in 2017. Just months after opening the practice in Meltham and was hospitalised for almost three months and spent another month in convalescence care.
Despite musician Stephen’s life support machine being switched off twice. Also having suffered two pretty major heart attacks, he beat the odds and recovered. Amazingly Stephen returned to work full-time just ten months later and was conducting Kippax band just 12 months after leaving intensive care. Stephen and Kippax band went on to win the Yorkshire area finals in March this year.
Stephen’s illness meant Sheryl, managing director and dispensing optician, had to run and grow the business on her own. She managed to keep the opticians open six days per week, despite daily hospital visits.
Helping Musicians to see the music
Allegro Optical works with The Royal Northern College of Music, The Halle Orchestra and Huddersfield Philharmonic. The team help musicians who struggle to focus on printed music and written notation due to a variety of 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. Sheryl’s pioneering work has been recognised within the industry when she won the Opticians Awards Dispensing Optician of the Year at the Industry’s national awards evening in Birmingham in March.
Having started with just the two directors Allegro Optical now employs 14 people. We work with musicians from all over the country and many from abroad. Our clients include those from major international ensembles including English National Ballet Philharmonic and Dublin RTE Concert Orchestra. Musicians from Championship section Brass bands including Brighouse and Rastrick Band and The Cory Band.
A word from the Chairman
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 in terms of Stephen’s health too. The whole team, led by Sheryl and Stephen have pulled together to make sure Allegro Optical is a success, and it’s down to them that the businesses have gone from strength to strength.
“The opticians not only provides an important community service but has carved out a niche, providing eye-care to renowned musicians. It gives me huge pleasure to present Allegro Optical with this award.”
We are so pleased to have won this award. It’s been a tough couple of years since we opened our first bricks and mortar store in 2017, but the family and staff have worked together and the business continues to grow. You can see Stephen and Sheryl’s interview here.
More than 2,000 small businesses from across the UK entered the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2019. A full list of UK winners can be found here.