Retirement of well-known optometrist who was the fifth generation of eyecare specialists in his family
A WELL-KNOWN Gullane eye specialist – a fifth-generation optometrist – has put away his testing equipment for good after decades of service.
Well-wishes have poured in for Geoffrey Ballantine, who took over family business Lizars and then co-founded Ballantine Goldie, following his retirement on his 69th birthday on May 30.
Geoffrey, the great great grandson of famous optometrist John Lizars, is the last in a line of five generations of eyecare experts.
Pioneering Scottish optometrist John Lizars was a senior operating surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh before he started the J. Lizars company in 1830.
Geoffrey, who lives on Gullane’s Broadgait, said: “My great great grandfather, John Lizars, travelled as low as Lancaster and as high as Orkney, which is spectacular to think about, considering he was travelling by horse and cart.”
Geoffrey was born and raised in Edinburgh before moving to Gullane with his wife Colette in 2008.
He studied optometry at Aston University, Birmingham, before graduating in 1973 and acquiring ownership of Lizars in 1989.
Following the sale of Black and Lizars in 2008, Geoffrey, in partnership with Tracy Goldie, set up Ballantine Goldie at two locations, one in Gullane and another at Davidson’s Mains, Edinburgh.
Geoffrey said he spotted an opening for an eyecare business in East Lothian.
He added: “East Lothian did not have many optometrists and I noticed a real shortage in the area, having looked at the Haddington appointment diaries and seeing the demand for appointments.
“The population is growing and Gullane is a lovely place to live and there were no optometrist facilities in Gullane, Longniddry, Aberlady and so on.”
During his career, Geoffrey dedicated years of his life to charity, saying: “I joined Vision Aid Overseas in 2009 and became a trustee in 2011, serving for almost nine years. I completed projects to Zambia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.”
The eye doctor also travelled to Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, in 1975, and to Kenya in 1979 for separate charity projects.
Geoffrey decided his retirement was imminent several years ago and is excited to enjoy more free time in East Lothian.
He added: “I suppose a serious focus of my retirement would be to continue a project I took on several years ago, about finding a way to recycle spectacles.
“More casually, I look forward to playing more golf and spending time with my grandchildren.”
Colleagues have paid tribute to “eternally optimistic and caring” Geoffrey, who departed Ballantine Goldie last month.
Tracy Goldie said: “Geoffrey has spent the last 10 years as my mentor and guide. We are immensely proud of what we have grown together and I am hugely grateful to him. We will all miss him terribly; we have encouraged him to never be a stranger and we look forward to welcoming him back as a loyal patient!”