'Local treasure' Lorraine celebrates 40 years of work
If local character, Lorraine Richmond, looks familiar to you, it’s probably because she’s worked at the same store on Gloucester Road since the late 1970s.
Celebrating her 40-year work anniversary at the opticians now owned by Lynne Fernandes Optometrists, she is a well known and much liked, figure in our local area.
Lorraine grew up in Henbury, was educated at Henbury School, and later moved to live in Cotham, then Easton and now lives in Severn Beach. She first saw the job of receptionist for an opticians advertised in the Job Centre in 1978 and went for an interview with the former owner, Roger Owen who ran the practice with his brother Michael. Aged just 20 at the time, Lorraine started work on September 21, 1978.
“It was new on the Gloucester Rd so we started from scratch and built up the customers,” says Lorraine.
“I’ve still got someone who comes in now who first came in 1979. I’ve seen children who are grown up now and I see their children. Through the years I’ve grown up and it’s nice to see people coming back. Sometimes it’s because I’m still here - I’m a familiar face.”
In those days Lorraine recalls the mix of shops being very different to how they are today: “The whole area’s changed a lot in 40 years. There were shoe shops, Woolworths, three or four other opticians but we’re the ones who’ve survived. Then, there were hardly any charity shops or restaurants.”
When Roger Owen retired eight years ago, the practice was taken on by Lynne Fernandes Optometrists and Lorraine’s work changed too as she explains: “When we first started I was just working on the phone, booking appointments and doing the filing. We never did any dispensing, or anything like that. Now I do contact lens teaching, glasses dispensing and measuring frames.”
The Gloucester Road branch has recently had a refit and the optical equipment is constantly being updated.
Lorraine says: “The new refit looks so nice - I really like it. We have a really good team and I enjoy working with the public. I remember the people from year to year when they walk through the door.”
Over the years Lorraine has met famous faces as well as familiar ones, including Paul Rutherford from 1980s band, Frankie goes to Hollywood. She’s also been on hand to sort out problems when things go wrong: “One lady was in a bad accident and I helped her son sort out her glasses on the phone.They wrote a lovely letter about me.”
Lorraine enjoys travel and celebrated her 60th birthday this year by embarking on a Mediterranean cruise with her husband. The idea of retirement is a long way off as she hopes to keep working as long as she’s in good health.
Good news for her loyal customers! In her typical, jokey way, Lorraine added:
“Everyone says that I’m one of the characters of Gloucester Road. If I’m quiet, everyone thinks there’s something wrong with me!”