Independant Opticians and Contact Lens Practitioners in Ashford, Kent


Cecil House, Norwood Street, Ashford, TN23 1QT



Dr Huw Pinney

Director and Lead Optometrist
B.Sc. (Hons.), Ph.D., M.C.Optom.
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

Director and Practice Manager
B.Sc. (Hons.), M.C.Optom.
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 a qualified Mental Health First Aider. In her (very rare) spare time, Helen enjoys sewing, gardening, pilates and music.


Mr AJ Bester

Senior Optometrist
B.Optom MCOptom Prof Cert Glauc
AJ qualified as an optometrist in South Africa in 2011 and has worked in various independent practices over the years, gaining valuable clinical and practice management experience. He received an additional Prof Cert Glaucoma qualification from Cardiff University in 2019. AJ is particularly passionate about community glaucoma monitoring and emergency eye care. He is also a keen myopia management practitioner, including orthokeratology. He likes keeping up with new developments in the eyecare world.

Mrs Michelle Newton

B.Sc.(Hons.), M.C.Optom
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.

Practice Staff

Mrs Sarah Sydnes

Pre-Registration Dispensing Optician

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.

Mrs Emily O'Kelly

Dispensing Optician & Accounts Administrator

Miss Sue Harrison

Dispensing & Clinical Assistant

Mrs Joanne Morgan

Clinical Receptionist

Mrs Sarah-Jane Woolf

Clinical Receptionist

Mrs Cathy Rogers

Dispensing Optician

Mrs Hannah Pinney

Business Development Associate
B.A (Hons.), M.A (Hons.), A.K.C.
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!

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!