Obituary: Angela Carson
“For many Angela would become one of the most important and influential characters in their professional life”
Glasgow optometrist Angela Carson (nee Beirne) has been praised for her warm-hearted approach to her vocation following her death from cancer in April.
Her dedication to her patients saw her decline holidays, offer lifts home and, on one occasion, adopt an ailing patient’s cat.
A written tribute by Bernie Hagerty, Elaine Salina and Frank Munro described Angela as a kind, sincere, honest and caring colleague.
“A real people’s person who would provide life-long loyalty and support,” they shared.
“Angela was simply an exceptional person, a thoroughly decent human being; respected and loved by so many who had the pleasure to know or work with her. She has gone too soon and is greatly missed.”
Angela was born in South Glasgow in 1953, one of four siblings.
The family moved to Kirkintilloch in North Glasgow soon after where Angela attended school.
“Glasgow meant a lot to Angela, and she chose to live and work in the city for most of her life,” the tribute noted.
“Angela’s father was an art teacher, a talent that Angela inherited, clearly obvious to those of us who were able to observe her detailed and perfect drawings recorded within patient notes.”
Angela left school in 1970 and attended Glasgow College of Technology to study Ophthalmic Optics.
She graduated in 1974, completed her pre-registration year in the Glasgow Eye Infirmary (GEI) and qualified as an ophthalmic optician in 1975.
In her early career she worked with a number of notable ophthalmic surgeons and pioneering optometrists, such as George Miller and Elizabeth MacLure.
She worked full time at the GEI from 1974 until 1980. In 1981, she opted for a part-time role within the GEI and split her time between hospital work and community practice with a post in Trotter’s Opticians in Edinburgh.
During her time at Trotters, she commuted by train between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
On 30 July 1984, she survived the Polmont Train crash which killed 13 and injured 17 passengers.
Angela left Glasgow for a period to take up a senior lecturer role within the optometry department of diagnostic sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1986.
“She gained fresh appreciation and respect from her students and colleagues in Hong
Kong who were extremely disappointed when she returned to Scotland in late 1988,” the tribute highlighted.
On her return to Scotland, she returned to community practice with Harry McMenamin, in Hamilton, followed by a role at Peter Millicans Associates contact lens practice before resuming her role in the hospital eye service, taking up a new post in Stobhill Hospital in 1990.
Angela was promoted to the head of optometry in 1993 where she “led a quiet revolution promoting and developing the role of hospital optometry across all Glasgow hospital sites.”
She was a College examiner from 1981 until her retirement in 2015. She acquired a diploma in contact lens practice 1977 and qualified as an independent prescribing optometrist in 2012.
Angela was simply an exceptional person, a thoroughly decent human being; respected and loved by so many who had the pleasure to know or work with her
When the Commonwealth Games came to Glasgow in 2014, Carson volunteered to work in the on-site eye clinic providing eye care services to hundreds of athletes and support staff.
“Angela served as the lead clinician for this project and won great acclaim from the organisers for her ability to co-ordinate the staff team, organise the equipment and layout and facilitate the smooth running of the clinic,” the tribute noted.
Angela met Graham Carson at a party on New Year’s day in 1975.
“Graham became her greatest friend and soulmate, they married in 1992 and enjoyed many happy years together in Strathaven. They enjoyed travelling and had numerous enjoyable holidays together,” the tribute highlighted.
“There could have been more trips as Graham travelled to conferences worldwide but when Angela was asked if she would like to accompany him staying at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas or the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong her usual answer was ‘I have patients to see and my staff need their holidays at that time’.”
Her favourite holidays were skiing with Graham in the Italian Dolomites.
The couple were enthusiastic football fans – however, their loyalties were split with Angela supporting Celtic and Graham supporting Rangers “resulting in some lively post-match point scoring, banter and debate.”
Angela was described as a “warm-hearted” optometrist with a genuine interest in the lives and activities of her patients.
“Stories abound about Angela’s compassion for her patients such as the time she opted to drive a patient home from the clinic because the transport was late and on another occasion when she discovered, that due to ill health, one of her long-standing patients had to find a new home for cat Sniffy, she immediately adopted the cat,” the tribute shared.
Angela retired in 2015. She developed cancer three years ago.
“She fought the disease in a typically dignified and brave manner, enduring several rounds of debilitating treatment.”
She died at home on 22 April 2021 with Graham by her side.
“Graham had the good fortune to spend so many great times with her, special memories that he can fondly retrieve and treasure. Her many colleagues will recall a consummate professional, dedicated and committed to her role as an innovator and pathfinder for optometric development.”
A fundraising appeal in her memory has been set up to support the Beatson Hospital Charity Fundraiser to purchase a new MRI Scanner. Those who wish to donate can do so online.