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> 10/11/11 | Looking to the future and recognising outstanding achievement

College of Optometrists AwardsOver 300 diplomates marked the beginning of their optometric careers in front of 700 guests at the annual College of Optometrists Diploma ceremony which took place on Tuesday 8 November 2011 at Central Hall, Westminster, London.

The Diploma ceremony, a highlight of the College calendar, celebrates newly-qualified optometrists’ entry into the profession and membership of the College. It also recognises the achievements and outstanding contribution of those who have helped shape optometry locally, nationally and internationally.

The day was a chance for the new optometrists to reflect on their hard work and personal development and celebrate the start of their professional careers in front of proud friends and family. 

There were also awards to those who achieved higher qualifications.  Members who have enhanced their training in particular areas of interest were awarded:
• Diploma in Therapeutics – Independent Prescribing
• Diploma in Therapeutics – Additional Supply
• Diploma in Glaucoma.

Fellowship is the highest qualification the College can give.  This year, seven Fellowships were awarded, based on portfolios of outstanding work. 

In addition, each year the College celebrates the significant contributions individuals have made to the profession by awarding Life and Honorary Fellowships.  Five Life Fellowships were awarded, to Anita Lightstone, Dr John Adrian Macdonald Jennings, Norbert Cohn, Donald Cameron and Dr Colin Fowler.  Professor Peng Tee Khaw was elected to Honorary Fellowship of the College in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the optometric profession, in particular his commitment to developing collaborative models of working between optometry and ophthalmology.

As part of its continuing commitment to supporting research excellence, the College recognised those who have made exceptional contributions to research in the fields of optometry, optics and vision science, awarding Research Excellence awards in six areas.   

In her opening speech, College President Dr Cindy Tromans told diplomates:  “Today you are beginning your career and we are, rightly, celebrating this milestone.  But you must continue to develop your skills, your knowledge and your understanding throughout your professional life.  Since I qualified in 1986, there have been many developments in the profession.  The increased pace of science and technology will mean that the changes during your career are likely to be even more profound.     The College has always championed lifelong learning, and we are here to support you.   Follow the excellent example set by the remarkable men and women we celebrate here with higher qualifications, research awards, and fellowships, so you, like them, can be true ambassadors for our profession.”

From 9 November,  a full list of the awards will be available on the College website at

One of the key aims of the College is the advancement of the study of, and research into, optometry, vision science, optics and related subjects. The recipients of the research excellence awards were as follows:
• Oral Presentation Prize, College Research Symposium 2011: Allannah Gaffney
• The Bernard Gilmartin OPO Award: Dr Richard Calver, Professor Daniel O’Leary, Dr Ebi Osuobeni, Dr Hema Radhakrishnan
• The George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize for outstanding postgraduate research: Dr Daryl Tabrett
• The Philip Cole Prize for excellence in practice-based research: Michael Beech
• The Giles Van Colle Memorial Award in conjunction with The Giles Van Colle Memorial Foundation for paediatric optometry: Rasmeet Chadha
• The Neil Charman Medal for Research for outstanding research: Dr Mhairi Day

Photographs will be available from 10 November.  For photographs and further information please contact Nigel Beaven, Interim Head of Marketing and Communications, telephone 020 7766 4342, email