Westbury’s Viv Howse beat off competition from over 140 Haine & Smith employees across the region to receive the independent opticians’ annual award of Top Employee for 2012.

Mrs Howse, of Park View Drive, Westbury Leigh, has achieved two NVQ qualifications in Customer Service since joining Haine & Smith five years ago and in the past year has taken on the responsibility of managing the practice on Westbury High Street, with excellent results.

The 49-year-old, who has been praised for her warmth and leadership skills, said: “I couldn’t have got this award without the help of my practice team.”

The independent family group, established in 1975 by Sue Haine and Barry Smith, has 19 practices throughout Wiltshire and the surrounding area, carrying out about 40,000 eye examinations a year.

Senior partner Barry Smith said: “Viv always wants to do the best for each patient. She is a great asset not only to Haine & Smith, but also to the local community in Westbury.”