AN INDEPENDENT opticians in west Cumbria is celebrating 25 years in business.

Ann Morgan Opticians opened its doors in Cleator Moor on November 9, 1998, with three members of staff.

Ann Morgan, an optometrist, moved to the area in 1988 for her then husband’s job. She worked in Whitehaven for 10 years for a large opticians and had grown tired of being told what to do by a large employer.

She saw a need for an optician in Cleator Moor when bringing her daughter to a soft play that was at Leconfield.

Ann started the business in a former dress shop on High Street, starting with second hand equipment and a loan from her parents.

The business has grown over the years and now employs 10 people. Ann recently acquired an Optomap machine which takes much wider images of the back of the eye than any other camera.

She said: “My aim was to provide eye care for local families so they didn’t have to travel to Whitehaven or Workington but we’ve been very well supported from further afield too.

“There’s always a happy atmosphere and most of the staff have been working here for many years – Linzie McCaslin and Susan Rooney have been here from the start and my optometrists Rachel Kinnear and Jannine McAteer, who work alongside me, have worked here for over 17 years.

“As a group of staff we have supported each other through tough times in our lives and will be taking the opportunity to celebrate our 25 years by going away together for the weekend.

“I’m amazed that it’s 25 years – I don’t know where they’ve gone!

“One of the joys of the joys of the job is seeing four generations of some families and watching youngsters grow up – some we knew as youngsters are now bringing their own children in.”