DEDICATED Cathy Barnett is 'determined' to keep a Chard opticians open after Boots announced it would be closing the store.

Boots Opticians, in Fore Street, is closing in January but Mrs Barnett, franchisee of the store, said leaving is "not an option" for her.

The town's pharmacy and beauty branch will be unaffected by the changes.

She said: "When I heard about Boots' decision to close the store, I was shocked.

"I have been working for Boots for 23 years and just knew that someone had to fight to keep it open as I didn’t feel I could abandon my patients - they would have to find another optician or travel to Taunton.

"I have a great team of loyal staff who work for me and I knew that if the store closed they would all be out of a job.

"It just wasn't an option for me, I couldn't let it happen," Cathy said.

Since Boots announced the store's closure, Cathy has been in negotiations with the beauty giant to take it over and run it as an independent outlet.

A spokesman for Boots Opticians said: "We can confirm that our practice in Chard will be closing early next year.

"We have been speaking to all of our patients individually and will be transferring their records to our nearby practice in Taunton.”

Cathy said she has received 'nothing but positive' responses to her plans for the store from existing customers and said she hopes many of them will follow her to her new venture.

"As franchisee, it is my property," she said.

"I own all of the fixtures, fittings and equipment in the store and am in the process of negotiating with Boots to continue the practice independently.

"Having my own store would be an amazing thing."

She said she would have the freedom to have "all new frames and pursue new avenues to give the best possible care to Chard residents."

She said if negotiations are successful, her patients would see the same opticians and team at the same premises.

She added: "It would be fantastic to take the store on and I am looking forward to the future."