Wellingborough optician couple chart their way to retirement - and back

Bob and Daryl Halsey built up their family business

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 7:00 am

A husband and wife team of optometrists who sold their business with the intention of hanging up their eye charts have changed their minds about retiring.

Bob and Daryl Halsey first started working in Wellingborough in 1986, and ended up opening their own independent practice, Halsey Opticians, in Church Street in 1988.

With expansion and take-overs the family-owned business was sold as a going concern to another practitioner with a view to Bob and Daryl eventually retiring.

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Halsey Opticians with Bob and Daryl
Halsey Opticians with Bob and Daryl

Bob, 65, said: “Having sold the practice, we always knew that at some point the new owners would want to put in some younger blood, but when this situation suddenly arose it was sooner and quicker than we’d expected.

"Within seconds of finding this out, we both realised that we weren’t ready for retirement."

The couple, who met while training, moved to Wellingborough because they wanted to work in a market town, and to build up their own business.

As well as owning their own practice the couple worked alongside Colin Parkinson of Parkinson Opticians in Sheep Street, a practice they bought with Mr Parkinson working one day a week for them for the next 12 years.

Bob and Daryl Halsey

For two years the couple managed both practices, but when the opportunity arose to expand the Sheep Street practice to encompass the ground floor, they chose to merge the practices into the one in Sheep Street establishing Halsey Opticians.

Daryl said: "When we first moved to the town we would ask what they did for a job and it would be 'boot and shoe'. We've seen things change with people needing glasses for looking at screens. There's plastic lenses rather than glass.

"When Peter Ebdon won the world snooker championships he always said it was down to his contact lenses that we prescribed for him. I think him practising for six hours a day helped too.

"Having a relaxed and friendly environment allowed us to get to know the patients on a more personal level and enabled us to give the best advice for everyone.

"Running your own business can be very stressful. In 30 years we only had two two-week holidays. The rest were five days here or six or seven days there - we were always on call and worked full time.

"When we began testing the children of patients who we had seen as children themselves, and both our sons worked as receptionists on Saturdays for a while, we knew we had a true family business."

After more than 27 years of working in Wellingborough, Bob and Daryl were approached to sell the practice and after some consideration they felt it was time to reduce the pressure on themselves, and with the proviso that they could stay on, the sale went ahead.

The change of ownership taking place around lockdown meant the couple had more time on their hands than ever before, but circumstances resulted in the pair leaving the practice.

Bob and Daryl have restarted their careers - Bob at NGH in Northampton and Daryl at an Earls Barton optometrists.

Daryl added: "We loved working in Wellingborough, meeting all kinds of interesting people and our greatest sadness is that we were unable to say goodbye to our many lovely patients.

"We wish to thank them for their loyalty and custom over the years."