WHEN a woman from Oxfordshire got a call from her local opticians saying she needed to come in as her specs needed changing, she had no idea that this was in fact a clever plan to surprise her with an early Christmas gift.

Zoe Elliott-Martin was in fact treated to a special Christmas surprise, a cheque for £2,000, to help bring some festive cheer after a challenging time for the Bicester resident.

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The 36-year-old, who is registered blind, has been a customer at Specsavers in Bicester since the store first opened 25 years ago.

A couple of years ago Zoe and her family were left with an unstable and unsafe house after a rogue builder, who had been working on an extension, took all of their money.

At that time the Specsavers Bicester branch decided to help her by spearheading a community-led campaign to raise funds and encourage local businesses to donate materials and labour.

Thankfully enough money was raised, as well as materials and time donated, so that the structural building work could be completed.

Zoe said: "This was such a surprise and I was completely overwhelmed. Specsavers has helped me so much over the years – both with my visual needs, but also in more recent years with support for me and my family. This Christmas gift means so much to me and I can’t thank them enough."

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Bicester Advertiser: Zoe Elliott-Martin (right) and Sarah Marshall (left)

Sarah Marshall, store director at Specsavers Bicester who has known Zoe since she was a young child, said: "Zoe is a wonderful person who, despite her personal circumstances, is always willing to help and makes people smile. So, this Christmas, we wanted to return the favour and make her smile.

"Zoe’s visual needs means that she needs appliances that are easy for her to use and these can often be more expensive than standard items. The money donated will help to buy white goods for her kitchen and ensure Zoe and her family can enjoy their home."

A video of Sarah surprising Zoe with the money was shared on the Bicester Chat Facebook group and people left comments of best wishes.

Bicester resident Leigh Atkinson commented: "That is awesome. Proving yet again that for every person with bad intentions there are many many more with good. Well done and congratulations Zoe."

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Another resident Tina Marriott Carter said: "Well done Specsavers, what an amazing thing to do, this video certainly made me cry. I've known Zoe since she was a little girl, she is a lovely person and didn't deserve to be treated the way she was. Jon Ralph and all the tradesmen who've helped Zoe along the way deserve a huge pat on the back."

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