AN independent Scottish optician who owns stores in both Alexandria and Dumbarton, has stayed open during the entirety of lockdown to serve the community and help key NHS workers.

Wilkie & Rider, a local family owned optician, managed to stay at their posts throughout the pandemic – with the founder’s son William Wilkie, and his children Sian and Willis making the practice available during regular hours since lockdown began in March.

And while the team has been unable to perform eye tests or eyecare procedures because of distance protocols, it has been able to help patients by telephone, repair spectacle frames, provide replacements, make deliveries and institute emergency referrals.

Sian Wilkie said: “The firm has been serving this community since my grandfather’s day in 1956, and we wanted to ensure that we were here for all the local people in these unprecedented times.”

The firm has been hailed as a “lifesaver” from locals, with residents taking to Wilkie & Rider’s Facebook page to pay tribute to their dedicated work.

One resident said: ““These guys helped my mum out by fixing the glasses she needs for work. She is a nurse in the NHS and wouldn’t have been able to do her job if they hadn’t been there to help.

“And they wouldn’t take any money for the repair! Class act.”

With lockdown easing, the firm is now set to re-open its doors to the general public next Monday, June 29 at 9am. Patients will be able to be see face to face for emergency and essential eye issues only.

Ms Wilkie added: “One of our priorities has been to take some of the pressure off the NHS and we are continuing to try to do that as much as possible. We also want to make sure that our staff are looked after and that any clients who enter the shops stay safe.

“We will increase the range of our services as quickly as possible and we have made provision for all the appropriate PPE equipment we will need, including masks, aprons and visors. We want to be back serving West Dunbartonshire fully just as soon as we can.”