MEET THE LOCALS…
Last updated: 10.39am, Wednesday 4th December 2019
Tracey and Niall Erskine share their story at Erskine Eyecare.
Who are you?
Tracey and Niall Erskine, company directors of Erskine Eyecare. We’ve been in Dunblane High Street since 1963 when Roy (Niall’s dad) opened the practice. Roy’s father Andrew had been a chemist/optician in Bridge of Allan opening in 1944 and Roy took the business on to its next level opening also in Auchterarder and Crieff. Tracey joined in 1990 and Niall completed the family line up a year later. Alongside the High Street practices we also run an outside clinic servicing six prisons and home visits to the housebound.
If you had to describe the business to someone what would you say?
Tracey: We try and be the very best eye care practice that we can be and have continually evolved over the many years we’ve been in existence. We are always embracing the latest technologies to help our great team of professionals look after all aspects of your eye care, i.e. the health of the eye, measuring how it sees, and then presenting the best solution to correcting and helping you see as well as possible.
Niall: Family business values of caring for our customers yet being progressive and innovative in our thinking.
What’s the most important thing about what you do?
Tracey: Patient care is top of our priorities; giving each person plenty of time so we can listen to them and explain all that we need to.
Who are your customers?
Tracey: We really try and cater for anyone who is interested in excellent eye care. We have families who have come to us for two, three and even four generations and people who on returning to the area to catch up with family etc regularly book in for their routine check!
Can you please all pockets?
Tracey: Yes! We have a fabulous and comprehensive range of frames and lenses for all pockets and expectations. Our range of Erskine Essential glasses are £50 for frame and single vision prescriptions lenses and for those that may want multiple pairs, and we go right up to our beautiful DITA eyewear with plenty of choices in between.
Do you offer contact lenses too?
Tracey: Yes, most of our lenses are supplied by J&J who are a great company to work with. Great customer service, great products, good training and education. We sell our contact lenses priced competitively to those that can be bought online and make a low monthly charge separately for our professional time spent on advising and helping people get the right product for them and making sure they wear their lenses healthily.
What technology do you use for your lenses?
Our spectacle lenses are supplied by Nikon which is a household name renowned for the quality cameras. The camera quality is based on the technology that comes from their relatively smaller sister company of ophthalmic lenses. Again, they provide us with top quality lenses and give fantastic backup from their dedicated team.
What is your greatest asset?
Tracey: Our greatest asset must be our team. A dedicated group of optometrists, dispensing opticians and front of house reception all led by our manager Jim and myself. Our reception team is extremely important in the smooth flow of the practice and is also highly trained in customer care and attention. Our optometrists are expert in all that you would expect of a modern professional but we have extra specialities in OCT (optical coherence tomography) which scans the retinal tissue showing areas of the eye that we cannot see otherwise. This technology helps us see and diagnose certain problems earlier than would be detected using older technology. We have many cases where we have sought treatment for patients and undoubtedly saved their vision. At our Bridge of Allan practice we also have an Optos camera. This is technology that provides us with a photograph of the entire retina and not just the central part that our digital photographs take. This helps us with diagnosing retinal tears, detachments, or seeing growths on the retina that may otherwise be missed. In fact it was a Scottish engineer, Douglas Anderson, who pioneered this technology after his young son lost an eye to an ocular tumour that was missed by conventional ophthalmoscopy. The technology is used widely in the States and becoming more embraced here in more recent years. It is absolutely invaluable and gives us great reassurance.
What other specialities does your team have?
Tracey: We also work with colour therapy to help those with visual stress and dyslexia using colour overlays and colorimetry. It has probably been the area where I get the biggest kick from. When you see a child or young adult find their world much more comfortable it can be a real life changing light bulb moment!
Why do you think you attract such a skilled and professional staff?
Tracey: We feel we have always been able to attract top quality professionals. They appear to seek us out and like our approach to patients and the products that they can work with. They can look after people the way they envisaged doing so when they set out (sadly it’s not always the case in the real world); they work extremely hard to ensure each patient’s needs are fully catered for. Many have been with us for years so hopefully we look after them well!
Niall: The companies we choose to work with are like minded, progressive, supportive business with excellent opportunities for continued training such as Nikon, Acuvue contact lenses. Frame brands like Neubau (sustainable frame materials), DITA and Ahlem are exclusive to us in central Scotland.
Do you have a family?
Tracey: Yes, beautiful fun loving twin daughters just turning 19 (watch out on the roads!) Cora and Ailsa. Also Connie the cute cockapoo, probably the best known of our family.
You have famous connections in the community don’t you?
Tracey: Yes! Judy (Murray), Niall’s sister, lives locally whilst the boys, Jamie and Andy, base their lives in London. Niall’s family mostly lives locally with the lovely Karin (married to Keith, Niall’s brother) working on reception in Dunblane. Granny and Grandpa, Roy and Shirley, are Dunblane stalwarts and all of love what the boys and Judy have done for tennis, sport and the community. We’re very proud of them; it’s quite a fun family to be a part of but don’t tell them that!
What’s your favourite spare time activity?
Tracey: When the girls were young we might have thought they would be keen sports people with an interest in science or maths but we seem to have two stage daft musical theatre nuts. They have performed regularly with Rubber Chicken Theatre, Stageworx, and MGA Academy of Edinburgh. Cora was recently Carmen in Fame at MacRobert and Ailsa played Sharpay in High School Musical there too. It’s given us parents some magical moments and hopefully many more to come. Away from that I love my fitness training and playing tennis and golf. I enjoy reading and have great fun with my book group although the book is not always given the attention it deserves! I enjoy eating, both in and out, Niall is a great and enthusiastic cook; just as well I like my fitness!
Niall: Tennis, golf, long and frequent walks in and around the huge number of brilliant open spaces around the town. I love cooking, eating, and have a particular interest in South African wines which I used to import following a few holidays to that amazing country.
Best way to spend a Saturday night?
Fun with friends which obviously involves food and a couple of gins!
Go-to family dinner?
Niall: Chicken skewers flatbread or fajitas.
Favourite Christmas tradition?
Tracey: Got to be the family game of Scattergories. Niall is just as competitive as Jamie and Andy so it can get a bit heated when your perfectly good answer is rejected!
What’s top of your bucket list?
Tracey: To win the fantasy football league! I represent the female world in my nephew’s league and have won the 2nd division but the big one eludes me. Doing OK so far this year though!
Niall: To visit Australia and New Zealand and watch the girls on the biggest stage they can get to!
If you had an hour of ‘me time’ what would you do?
Tracey: Potter in the garden or coffee with a pal, love a blether :-)
Niall: Watch the last set of Andy’s first Wimbledon win or the second half of Hibs Scottish Cup final win.
Favourite book or film?
Tracey: The Help. Both the book and the film of it are beautiful.
Niall: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
If you could invite anyone, who would you ask to dinner?
Tracey: Niall, so he can cook it!
Niall: A comedian I enjoy, like Kevin Bridges, Nelson Mandela if he was still around, Chris Hoy and all my family.
Best thing you like about Dunblane?
Tracey: Just feels like home, I love it.
Niall: The location and scenery, plus it’s small enough to feel like a community but big enough to be a vibrant town.