A New Year message from our president.

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2019 brings you everything you wish for and that it is happy & healthy.

Well, 2018 was quite a year for the IOA! Fond memories of the Convention in the UK are still fresh in my mind and the IOA Board is working on the next Convention in 2020. For us 2020 is going to be a VERY big year. Many people around the world – even those with no connection with optics - recognise that 2020 has something to do with vision and sight. So, it falls on us as opticians around the world to embrace our mission to enhance and develop our profession as much as we can. We should reach out to like-minded colleagues and develop networks which will strengthen not only our bonds, but the profession as a whole.

As ambassadors for the IOA (and I firmly believe we all are as members of the organisation) it is our corporate responsibility to raise the profile of opticians wherever and whenever we can. I am fortunate to be able to represent opticians in many places around the globe due to my involvement with optical organisations Internationally (IOA) in Europe (EAOO & ECOO) and Nationally (ABDO & WCSM).

Since my last update I have been able to fly the IOA flag in Paris at the prestigious Silmo event and present Robert Grimard with the Inaugural Silmo/IOA International Optician of the Year award. In her introduction, Silmo President Amelie Morel highlighted the vital relationship between product and consumers,adding that without opticians, product would never reach consumers – opticians are the link between industry and patients.

Both Elaine and I attended the European Council of Optometry and Optics autumn meeting in Malmo, Sweden. We were able to engage with opticians and optometrists from around Europe and beyond and have worked alongside our colleagues in the European Academy of Optometry and Optics in bringing relevant optics education to all who attend these twice yearly meetings.

Next in the diary was New Zealand to attend the Association of Dispensing Opticians New Zealand (ADONZ) Conference. I had two hats to wear at this Conference – I represented both ABDO, the awarding body and Professional Association here in my native UK – as well as having the honour of being the keynote speaker as President of the IOA at the first ever Dispensing Opticians Graduation in New Zealand.

I was able to welcome 25 of the 28 graduates personally into the profession and as members of ADONZ as members of the IOA. It was a very special event. Our newest members should be warmly congratulated and welcomed to the profession.

On to November; as a DO in the UK, like many of my colleagues, I am a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WCSM). The WCSM is the oldest optical body in existence today having received its Royal Charter in 1629 from Charles I. It can actually trace ‘spectacle makers’ working in the city of London many years and even centuries before! The reason I mention this is that I was honoured to be able to take part in the Lord Mayors Show – a mile long procession through the streets of London to celebrate the installation of a new Lord Mayor. This yearly ‘spectacle’ is a highlight of the Livery Companies of London calendar and 2018 was extra special as we were able to take part.

Then to the ABDO graduation ceremony – as a guest at this celebration at Canterbury Cathedral I was able to observe many more DO Graduates formally be recognised and welcomed into the profession by ABDO President Clive Marchant. A spectacular event in beautiful surroundings made the cold evening bearable!


I then had the privilege of spending three days with colleagues from China who were on an exchange programme visiting ABDO as part of a rising stars programme which identifies optometrists, ophthalmologists and others from the sector who are deemed to be future leaders and opinion makers. Those three days were intense but some of the most rewarding ones of my career to date.

We always hope our diaries slow up a little in December as we draw nearer to the holiday season and spending time with friends & family. Well it did, but not before I hosted a colleague from France at the prestigious WCSM Christmas Court Lunch at Apothecaries Hall in London and from there onwards to ABDO College in Kent to meet up with exchange students from France who are training to be Opticians. Investing in our new graduates & those students still in training is vital to the longevity of our organisation. The earlier we engage & promote the IOA and the benefits of being a member, the more likely we are to have a strong and vibrant organisation moving forward.

2019 is already shaping up to be busy, so keep checking the website for updates in the coming months and especially the events section with details of what is on and where.

Topic: Letter from our president