The owners of a successful West Yorkshire opticians overcame adversity to grow their company, despite one of the co-founders contracting a life-threatening illness just months after opening their doors. Meltham-based Allegro Optical, which provides a unique optical services to musicians and performers worldwide as well as local eye-care, picked up the Chairman’s Special Award at last night’s (23 May) FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards at Battersea Evolution in London. The award was given to a business that has faced and overcome major difficulties. Allegro Optical Managing Director Stephen Tighe, who co-founded the business with partner Sheryl Doe, fell seriously ill in 2017 just months after opening the practice in Meltham and was hospitalised for almost three months. Despite musician Stephen’s life support machine being switched off, he beat the odds and recovered - and amazingly has now returned to work full-time. Stephen’s illness meant Sheryl, managing director and dispensing optician, had to run and grow the business on her own, and managed to keep the opticians open six days per week, despite daily hospital visits. The business works with The Royal Northern College of Music, The Halle Orchestra and Huddersfield Philharmonic to help musicians who struggle to focus on printed music and written notation due to a variety of eye conditions. Known as the ‘musician’s optician’, they are the first and only opticians to become registered British Association of Performing Arts Medicine practitioners. Allegro Optical, which employs 14 people, now works with musicians from major international ensembles including English National Ballet Philharmonic and Dublin RTE Concert Orchestra. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “This is an incredible story of a family business defeating the odds, not only managing to continue and grow their company, but overcoming adversity in terms of Stephen’s health too. The whole team, led by Sheryl and Stephen have pulled together to make sure Allegro Optical is a success, and it’s down to them that the businesses has gone from strength to strength. “The opticians not only provides an important community service in Meltham, but has carved out a niche, providing eye-care to renouned mucisicans. It gives me huge pleasure to present Allegro Optical with this award.” Co-founders Sheryl Doe and Stephen Tighe, said: “We are so pleased to have won this award. It’s been a tough couple of years since we opened our first bricks and mortar store in 2017, but the family worked together and the business continued to grow. “We’re really proud of how the business has grown so far and with 69 professional musical ensembles in the UK alone we know our market is large.” More than 2,000 small businesses from across the UK entered the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2019. A full list of UK winners can be found here. Ends Note to Editors About small businesses in the UK There are 5.6 million small businesses in the UK and these account for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses. The combined annual turnover of SMBs in 2018 was £2 trillion, 52 per cent of all private sector turnover. SMBs account for at least 99.5 per cent of the businesses in every main industry sector. There has been a significant increase in the economic contribution generated by women entrepreneurs over the last few years, according to a recent FSB report. Almost 40 per cent of the award finalists were businesses owned by women. About the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards More than 2,000 small businesses from across the UK and from almost every sector entered this year’s FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards and the UK final was held following area finals in each English region and devolved nation. The awards, run by the Federation of Small Businesses celebrate and recognise the UK’s small businesses and the self-employed.