Team leader and student trainer at Vision Aid Overseas (VAO), Mark Esbester (pictured), has been made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s honours list.
A volunteer for VAO for over 13 years, Mr Esbester has been recognised for voluntary services to eye care in Africa.
Through VAO, Mr Esbester carries out clinical work in hospitals and health centres in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia. He is also an optometrist at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
Director of fundraising for VAO, Andy Holliday, said: “Last year, the teams that Mark either led or deputised for examined 2310 patients, dispensed 1683 pairs of spectacles and delivered 310 hours of training.”
Mr Holliday highlighted: “It is very hard to estimate the number of patients that overseas optical trainees, taught by VAO volunteers like Mark, will see in their working life time, but it is likely to be tens of thousands. In a world where an estimated 1.2 billion people can’t see properly simply because they need glasses, Mark and many other VAO optical volunteers like him are helping to make a huge impact on the lives and livelihoods of some of the world’s most marginalised people.”
Director of postgraduate taught programmes and co-director of Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre at Cardiff University, Professor Barbara Ryan, has also received an MBE for services to optometry.
Optometrist Donald Cameron was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to eye care in Scotland.