Practice Team of the Year

Brownbills Optometrists were awarded Practice Team of the Year at the prestigious SightCare Conference, recognising the team's dedication to eyecare in the local community.

Providing Eye Care Services in Ashford for Over 100 Years

Ashford’s independent family Optometrists, enhancing the visual quality of our patients’ lives through excellent clinical care.

Eye Examinations

One of our practice staff will greet you upon arrival, sign you in, and check your contact details with us are all correct.

Eye Plans

Brownbills Optometrists is proud to provide the Eyeplan® care scheme.

Our Brands

As your local independent optician, we’re excited about the freedom of choice we are able to offer each and every one of our patients following their eye examination.

Dr Huw Pinney

Dr Huw Pinney Director & Lead Optometrist

Huw graduated with a BSc in Optometry from City University in 1984, and went on to achieve his PhD in Visual Science in 1992. Having worked in practices across South London and Kent, Huw and his wife Helen became the owners of Brownbills Optometrists in 1994. Huw has always played an active role in Optometry in the community, being heavily involved in the Local Optical Committee, a director of Primary Eye Care (Kent and Medway) Ltd, and one of the driving forces behind the development of Primary Eye Care pathways in East Kent. As well as being accredited to offer eye and contact lens examinations, Huw is also experienced in post-operative cataract care, MECS, TearClinic and CGN examinations. In his free time, Huw is lover of all things sport, from skiing, to cycling, to running, and can always be found supporting Wales Rugby and his daughters at their Hockey & Netball matches!

Mrs Helen Pinney

Mrs Helen Pinney Director & Practice Manager

Optometry runs in Helen’s family, and so one might say that it was inevitable she would go on to pursue it as a career. Helen attended City University, graduating with a BSc in Optometry in 1987, and becoming a member of the British College of Optometrists in January 1989. After graduation, she worked for several practices across London, before making the decision with Huw to return to her Kentish roots, and take over Brownbills in 1994. Since then, Helen has ensured the smooth running of the practice. Alongside being Practice Director, she is an active member of the SightCare Business Group, meeting regularly with fellow Independent Optometrists, and a qualified Mental Health First Aider. In her (very rare) spare time, Helen enjoys sewing, gardening, pilates and music.

Mrs Michelle Newton

Mrs Michelle Newton Optometrist

After graduating from Manchester University in the Millennium year, Michelle became the newest member of our team when she joined the practice in early 2019. Despite her brief time with us so far, Michelle brings with her a wealth of experience in Optometry stemming for over 20 years working in other Independent Ophthalmic practices in Kent. With a keen interest in behavioural Optometry, Michelle is also experienced in eye and contact lens examinations and post-operative cataract care.

Gillian Stepek

Gillian Stepek Optometrist

Gillian joined the Brownbills Optometrists team in May 2024.

Prior to training as an Optometrist, she spent several years working in medical research, before studying Optometry at Glasgow Caledonian University. She graduated with a First Class degree and fully qualified as an Optometrist in July 2021. Shortly after her graduation, Gillian ventured southward, relocating from Scotland to Kent, where she joined an independent practice near Kings Hill, West Malling.

Gillian enjoys learning and has particular clinical interests in paediatric optometry, patients with learning difficulties, myopia management, low vision and visual stress. Driven by a commitment to clinical excellence, Gillian has obtained accreditations in myopia management and MECS, with aspirations to further her expertise in paediatric eye care, learning difficulties, and low vision. She is also actively involved as a STEP mentor with Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, extending her knowledge and support to pre-registration optometry students.

Outside of work, Gillian can often be found at the stables with her beloved horse.

Mrs Emily O’Kelly

Mrs Emily O’Kelly Dispensing Optician & Accounts Administrator

Emily has worked for Brownbills Opticians for the majority of her 22 year career in Optics, starting back in 2001 on a 2 weeks work experience placement whilst at Highworth Grammar School! She went on to join the team permanently, first as a Receptionist working on Saturdays and during her school holidays, and then training and successfully qualifying as a Dispensing Optician.

Emily met her now husband in 2006 and together they moved to Guildford in 2007 where she worked for Batemans Opticians before moving on to Boots Opticians as a Team Manager in 2008 working in various branches across Hampshire.

In 2012 Emily moved back to Kent with her family and we were delighted to welcome her back to Brownbills as a Dispensing Optician. Following a career break in 2014 to raise her family, Emily returned in 2018 with a modified role supporting staff and in 2019 took on the additional responsibility of Accounts Administrator. Emily has recently returned to work after the birth of her 5th child in 2022.

Her time away from work is spent enjoying family time and training and teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Mr Jack Thomson

Mr Jack Thomson Pre-Registration Dispensing Optician

Ashford born and bred, and son-in-law to Huw & Helen, Jack joined the Brownbills Team in January 2019, following 10 years in the commercial vehicles industry as a Sales Specialist. He immediately jumped into training, qualifying as an Optical Assistant in December 2019, and is currently studying to be a Dispensing Optician through ABDO. Outside of work, Jack loves a skiing holiday and also is a great motorsport fan! When chance arises, he might also be found squeezing in a round of golf.

Miss Sue Harrison

Miss Sue Harrison Dispensing & Clinical Assistant

Sue began her career in Optics as a Trainee Optical Consultant at Dollond & Atchinson in 1998. She progressed upwards through the company, and becoming a Manager. Dollond & Atchinson merged with Boots in 2010, and Sue continued to work here until 2020. After this she spent 9 months with Specsavers before finding a new home at Brownbills Optometrists in September 2021. Sue is our Dispensing & Clinical Assistant, and alongside Senior Optometrist AJ, she runs our Community Glaucoma Clinics. Outside of work, Sue enjoys shopping, and if she isn’t already travelling, she’s dreaming of holidays!

Mrs Cathy Rogers

Mrs Cathy Rogers Dispensing Optician

Mrs Sarah-Jane Woolf

Mrs Sarah-Jane Woolf Office & Clinical Administrator

Sarah-Jane has a degree in Business and is a CIPD member. She is new to the world of Optics and thoroughly enjoying the challenge! Prior to joining Brownbills, she worked in Human Capital Consulting, working with IT companies across the world. She has also worked as an IT recruiter, a Test Analyst at a big 4 accountancy firm and has run several local charities.In her spare time she loves to cook, read and watch Sci-Fi/Fantasy and beautify her garden. She is also a grammar and spelling fanatic, so always has that red pen ready!

Mrs Joanne Morgan

Mrs Joanne Morgan Clinical Receptionist

Jo was a patient of Dr Pinney for 15 years prior to joining the Brownbills Optometrist’s team in October 2008.

She enjoys her role as a clinical receptionist – welcoming patients to the practice, carrying our pre-screening tests and, most importantly, keeping everyone supplied with tea and coffee.

In her spare time, Jo enjoys gardening, baking and swimming!

Miss Bethany Stanley

Miss Bethany Stanley Undergraduate Student Optometrist

Bethany has just successfully completed her A Levels at Ashford School and is now studying Optometry at Cardiff University. She started at Brownbills as work experience in 2021 and has since been taken on as a receptionist on Saturdays and during her school holidays. She has been a patient at Brownbills Optometrists since she was two, so has a good insight into the patient experience! In her down time, Bethany enjoys baking.

Mrs Hannah Pinney-Thomson

Mrs Hannah Pinney-Thomson Business Development Associate

Daughter of Huw and Helen, and married to Jack, Hannah is delighted to be officially joining the Brownbills team, supporting part-time with business development and digital marketing. After graduating with a Masters in “Science, Technology & Medicine in History” from King’s College London in 2015, where she aptly wrote her dissertation on cataract surgery, Hannah worked in the education sector, initially in events management before moving into alumni relations and fundraising. Hannah has recently taken up a post working with the renown British vocal ensemble, The Gesualdo Six (directed by Owain Park) supporting their busy concert schedule and also works with the choral concert company Vox Anima London. In her spare time, she can be found singing with Vox Anima Chamber Choir, reading, park running, or enjoying reality television!

Miss Sophie Pinney

Miss Sophie Pinney Business Development Assistant

Sophie is delighted to have joined the family business as Business Development Assistant. She graduated from the University of the Creative Arts with a First Class Degree in Fine Art, and alongside working as a freelance artist, she supports Brownbills with all our creative endeavours – from social media posts to educational materials.

Peggy Pinney

Peggy Pinney Wellbeing Manager

Peggy has been a member of the Brownbills team for as long as she can remember. A passionate advocate for employee and patient wellbeing, she takes great pride in her work. Based in the upstairs office, she can often been found underneath Helen’s desk or in the Kitchen taking a great interest in staff lunches. Peggy looks forward to seeing you in practice soon!

Albert Pinney

Albert Pinney Wellbeing Apprentice

Albert is delighted to be the newest member of the Brownbills team, taking on the important role of Wellbeing Apprentice. This is Albert’s first job and he is very excited to learn the best wellbeing tips and tricks from elder sister Peggy. Albert looks forward to meeting you in the practice! 

Our Story

Brownbills Optometrists has been providing eye care services in Ashford for over 100 years. Now located in a detached Victorian house in Norwood Street, we thrive on the happiness and well-being of our patients and our community.

From a child’s first eye examination through to a patient’s most senior years our friendly and experienced team at Brownbills are available to help, providing comprehensive eye care to the highest standards.

Brownbills Shop

At Brownbills, we take pride in offering a wide range of top-quality optical products that not only enhance your vision but also reflect your unique style. Whether you’re searching for fashionable eyewear, cutting-edge contact lenses, or innovative eye care solutions, we’ve got you covered.

About Us

Situated in the heart of Ashford Town, at Brownbills Optometrists we are proud to offer a personal and specialist approach to your eye care.

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Eye Examinations

Our comprehensive eye examinations at Brownbills Optometrists ensure your visual health is our top priority, providing personalised and expert care.

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Have a question?

Feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to help

Contact Us

Eye Exams

As your local independent optician, our experienced team of Optometrists are renowned for their comprehensive eye examinations.


We are now delighted to be one in just over 100 practices in the UK to be able to offer Optomap as a pre-screening service to our patients.

Visual Stress

Visual stress is a sensitivity to visual patterns and it is thought that these patterns can cause a hyper-activation of the visual part of the brain.