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Isabella Bernard Parsons Are Scotlands Grandparents Year

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Paisley grandparents Isabella, 69, and Bernard Parsons, 68, have won the Scottish final of Age Concern's Grandparent of the Year awards, in association with Specsavers.

The couple were nominated by their 16-year-old granddaughter, Emma Hughes, who also lives in Paisley. Emma was born with a congenital dislocation of the hip, and requires frequent hospital trips.

Emma says: 'I have been through a lot of operations, one of which was in London where my grandpa stayed with my mum and me to allow my dad to look after my brother and sister back home. My gran stayed at home to help my dad with my sister, and did everything from fixing her hair to teaching her to walk.'

Not only are Isabella and Bernard dedicated to helping care for their grandchildren, they are also committed to supporting their local community. Bernard sat on the board of nearby St. Benedict's High School, as well as the Parish Council and Diocesan Council of Paisley. Bernard is also a former director of St. Vincent's Hospice - a charity which he continues to support.

Says Bernard: 'We were flabbergasted; the nomination was kept a complete secret from us.

'Isabella and I place great importance on always being there whenever we're needed. Because of Emma's condition, it's often a case of one phone call and we're there as quick as possible.'                                                         

Isabella adds: 'With eight sons, fourteen grandchildren and another on the way, Bernard and I are never short of visitors to our home in Linwood. I think what we've both learned from being a grandparent is that you must always enjoy the time you have with your grandchildren.

'It's down to experience. Being a parent, you're bringing up your family, but you're also busy working and providing for them. Being a grandparent, the pressure is off and you simply have more experience and more time to enjoy with your children's children.'

Now in its 18th year, the competition has received thousands of heart-felt nominations from relatives and friends to recognise the pivotal role that older people play in family and community life. 

Joyce Sperber, Age Concern representative, says: 'Selecting a Scottish winner was a very difficult decision based on all the wonderful entries we had the pleasure of reading through. We felt that Bernard and Isabella had that edge, as a real inspiration to both their family and within their community.'

Shirish Chotai, Specsavers Paisley store director, says: 'I would like to wish warm congratulations to Isabella and Bernard on behalf of Specsavers. We received a large number of entries in the region this year but the Parsons were clear winners, whom we are proud to reward.'

Isabella and Bernard received full VIP treatment yesterday at the Specsavers store in Paisley - prizes included a trophy, champagne and a goody bag containing a £150 Specsavers eyecare voucher for each.

They join 11 other regional winners throughout the UK. Following the regional presentations, five will be selected to attend a VIP trip to London for the final judging process and reception at the House of Commons, hosted by TV's Fiona Phillips on 25 March.

The Grandparent of the Year 2009 winner will be awarded a cash prize of £3,000, plus £750 worth of eyecare and £2,000 worth of hearing care, all courtesy of Specsavers.

- Ends -



Notes to editors


Grandparents Fact Sheet

  • Approximately 1.4 million, or one in ten grandparents, are aged under 50
  • The average number of grandchildren among all grandparents is 4.4
  • During the 1950s one in five grandparents had 10 or more grandchildren; that's now dropped to one in 20
  • Six in 10 working parents use grandparents to look after their babies. Grandparents undertake childcare worth an incredible £3,886 million per year


Age Concern

  • Age Concern is the largest organisation in the UK working for older people. They work in the community to support older people through a range of initiatives. These include information and advice, befriending, day centres, lunch clubs, transport services, home visits, and advocacy services. More information can be found on their website www.ageconcern.org.uk



  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world
  • The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their eldest son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,060 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain and Australia
  • Annual turnover for the Specsavers Group is forecast to reach a record £1.05 billion for the financial year 2008/9
  • The group plans to continue its successful international expansion by opening stores in New Zealand
  • Specsavers optical stores and hearing centres are owned and run by joint venture or franchise partners.
  • Specsavers employs more than 26,000 staff
  • Specsavers was voted Britain's most trusted brand of opticians for the seventh year running by Reader's Digest in 2008
  • One in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers Opticians - eight and a half million glasses were sold during 2007
  • Specsavers is the largest retail provider of home delivery contact lenses in Europe and one of the top two retail suppliers of continuous wear lenses in the world
  • Specsavers is now the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK and will offer a hearing service from more than 400 locations by the end of 2008
  • Specsavers supports numerous optical and hearing charities, including Diabetes UK, for whom they have raised more than £250,000 to fund research into diabetic retinopathy
  • Since 2003 a quarter of a million glasses have been collected and recycled by Specsavers stores for Vision Aid Overseas for use in developing countries


*GfK Home Audit (Dec 2007)