AOP Council elections

Kevin Wallace: “I wanted to do my bit and help to shape the profession”

OT  speaks to AOP Councillor for Scotland, Kevin Wallace, as he steps down from Council in this year’s elections

After 17 years representing Scotland on the AOP Council, optometrist and independent practice owner, Kevin Wallace, will be standing down, with his position up for election this year.

Ahead of AOP Council nominations opening on 15 February with a number of regional seats being available for election and four appointed positions being available for application, OT sat down with Wallace to talk about his experiences on Council.

Wallace joined Council in 2006, filling one of two regional representative seats for Scotland. He decided to stand after he was encouraged to do so by an optometrist in the seat who was standing down.

“The member who had represented our area for a while was stepping down and came to me and said ‘Have you thought about doing this, I think you would find it quite interesting’,” he told OT.

Admitting to not giving it much thought initially, as Wallace did start to consider standing, he realised he would like to represent Scotland on AOP Council.

“The more I thought about it, I thought it would be interesting and I wanted to do my bit and help to shape the profession,” he shared.

Recalling what Council was like when he joined, Wallace said: “It felt like a lot of middle-aged men,” adding: “Unfortunately, I think I’ve probably joined that group now.”

He highlighted that Council today is, “much more representative of the profession – [there are] a lot more ethnicities and a lot more women on Council too, which makes a lot of sense with the make-up of our profession.”

“The Council represents the profession,” Wallace emphasised, adding: “We need people from a variety of different modes of practice and different areas.”

Being a Councillor

When Wallace joined Council it was during a period of immense change for Scotland, when new general ophthalmic services (GOS) were being introduced in the country. “It was a really interesting time… and it was just really nice to be involved in the beginning, finding out about things and shaping some of that policy as well,” he said.

Describing the role of a Councillor, Wallace shared: “The main thing is representing your area – coming to the meetings and embracing the other ways that you can be involved in discussions –sharing what works and the issues you are having, and flagging those so we can discuss them.”

As a Councillor he emphasised the importance of being able to share your experiences and put forward the views of those in the regional area that you are representing during Council discussions.

Asked about what he has most enjoyed about his time on AOP Council, Wallace identified being able to be involved with the practical advice that was issued by the AOP to members in the early days of GOS change in Scotland, to help busy practitioners in their day-to-day work.

He added that he had also enjoyed going out and seeing members through roadshows and peer reviews over the years.

“It’s just great to get around the country and meet people where they are and discuss the issues that are relevant to them,” he said. 

To read more on Council elections and to find out how to put yourself forward, visit the AOP website.