AOP marks the achievements of the profession

The Association welcomed over 100 industry representatives at an evening celebration during 100% Optical

AOP sunday event

An evening celebratory event hosted by the AOP during 100% Optical provided attendees with the opportunity to come together and celebrate the profession’s achievements over the last two years.

Held on board London’s Sunborn Yacht Hotel on Sunday 24 April, more than 100 members and industry representatives were in attendance.

Opening the evening, chief executive of the AOP, Adam Sampson, said: “It is so good to be here, in person, to celebrate the amazing contribution optometry has made to our primary care services – especially over the last two years.”

Having joined the AOP in 2021, Sampson explained: “Coming into this job, all I heard and read made it absolutely clear that the profession’s response to the pandemic over the past two years was nothing short of exemplary.”

Making reference to the dozen-plus optical practices located across his local north London High Street, which, like many across the UK “remained resolutely open, staffed by optical practitioners willing to risk their health in the service of their fellow humans,” Sampson said: “Not only did those businesses remain working, but they began providing a wider range of services, ensuring that hard-pressed clinicians elsewhere in the healthcare system were freed up to respond to the immediate threat of COVID-19.”

Looking to the future post-pandemic, Sampson told the audience: “Pandemics change things – not just temporarily but permanently.”

“The old normal is no more; our job is to shape the new normal,” he highlighted, adding that the profession is “well placed to meet that challenge.”

Describing the opportunity, he said: “We need to shape a new profession fit for the future; we need to preserve the retail activity and build on the clinical activity; and we need to move optics from an afterthought into the heart of healthcare.”

During the evening, which was a celebration of the profession, the AOP recognised optometrist, Trevor Warburton, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sponsored by Alcon, the award recognises a person who has dedicated their career to promoting and expanding the role of optics, or who has brought the benefits of optics to a wider audience.

Presenting Warburton with the accolade, optometrist and AOP chairman, Dr Julie-Anne Little, said: “I couldn’t be more honoured to present this award to not only a remarkable optometrist and practice owner, but a colleague who I’ve had the privilege of working with for many years, and one who I can call a true friend.”

Read more about Warburton’s career, which spanned over five decades, on the OT website.

During the evening, attendees also paid tribute to optometrist Karen Sparrow, who passed away from ovarian cancer in January, through a minute’s silence. As a peer and friend of Karen’s, Little shared: “Having had the pleasure of knowing Karen personally, she was an advocate for the profession, and she has touched the lives of many. Her desire was to help other people and spread the skills of optometry and delivering eye care. If we contributed half as much as Karen – with just a just a dash of her enthusiasm – we would all be proud. And I feel honoured to have known her.”

The evening event was sponsored by Alcon, Lloyd & Whyte, Ocuco, CooperVison, and 100% Optical.