Optometrists recognised in 2021 New Year Honours List

A number of optometrists have been recognised for their services in prison optometry, supporting people with sight impairments, and for work during the COVID-19 pandemic

working at desk

A number of optometrists have been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021, including for services to people with sight impairments, services to prison optometry, and for work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response.

The New Year Honours List recognises the work of recipients across the UK, and includes 1239 recipients for 2021.

Tanjit Singh Dosanjh, founder and chief executive officer of the Prison Opticians Trust, was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to optometry in prisons and reducing re-offending.

Tanjit Singh Dosanjh, founder and chief executive officer of the Prison Opticians Trust
Speaking to OT, he said: “I was surprised to receive such an award, but pleased the work I have been doing for these past eight years has been recognised in this way.

“I hope this OBE will help me raise awareness for the things we can do to tackle reoffending. Training prisoners to make spectacles is just one way.

“We are hopeful this will also expand the number of optometrists that are working with us,” he added.

Last year, Mr Dosanjh spoke to OT about the Trust’s new frame supply service, Liberty Glasses, the impact of COVID-19, and plans for the future. Read the interview here.

Ruth Perrott, managing optometrist for VisionCare Optometry, based in York, has been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to people with sight impairments in Africa.

Ruth Perrott
Ruth Perrott, managing optometrist for VisionCare Optometry
Ms Perrott has visited the African continent 16 times, providing spectacles, low vision aids and optical training for village communities and hospitals.

The optometrist also co-ordinates the SpecSort project, which began in 1991 following a visit to the Cameroon with a combined Vision Aid Overseas and Operation Raleigh project.

Supporting the project, Rotary York Ainsty helps to sort, cleanse, measure and pack redundant and unwanted spectacles to donate to recipients in need in Africa. More recent visits to Africa have supported rural projects throughout Malawi, the Casamance Delta region in Senegal, and a Rotary project in Tanzania.

Speaking to OT, Ms Perrott explained that the award came as a surprise, and said: “I was delighted.”

Describing the motivation behind her work, Ms Perrott added: “It’s nice to be able to use the skills I have learned as an optometrist for the benefit of people worldwide.”

Sarah Joyce, superintendent optometrist at Asda, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours for services to primary optical care during the COVID-19 response.

Sarah Joyce
Sarah Joyce, Asda superintendent optometrist
Sharing the details behind the award, the company said that, at the outset of the first lockdown in the UK, Ms Joyce took personal responsibility for analysing and understanding the COVID-19 guidelines to ensure Asda optical departments had the appropriate standard operating procedures in place to open for essential and emergency care.

The company explained that Ms Joyce’s efforts meant all 156 Asda optical departments were able to remain open for essential and emergency care during the pandemic, adding, “Those services provided vital primary assessment for patients, often playing a critical role in identifying other underlying health conditions that would otherwise go undiagnosed.”

Commenting on the recognition, Ms Joyce said: “I am honoured and very proud to have been awarded a British Empire Medal.

“Ensuring we were available for our patients for urgent care and being based in a supermarket environment meant we could also help patients reduce journeys whilst doing any essential shopping. The difference the teams have made to patients during this time makes it all worthwhile.”

Ms Joyce continued: “I am so grateful and proud of all of the team and departments for their hard work and effort that made this possible.”

Commenting on the New Year Honours List, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it offered an opportunity to “recognise many who have gone above and beyond in their contribution to our country.”