Hamblin Memorial Prize for Gil


The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) represents over 5,700 qualified dispensing opticians in the UK who are registered with and regulated by the General Optical Council (GOC). All registered dispensing opticians have undergone a minimum of three years academic and practical training to qualify. Only dispensing opticians registered with the GOC can practise in the UK, or use the protected title dispensing optician, so it is totally outstanding that local resident Gil Smith FBDO (Hons) LVA was recognised at the ABDO’s Annual Gala Dinner recently for his ‘unique and outstanding contribution to the profession of dispensing optics’. Gil, pictured here with his wife Liz was overwhelmed to be honoured by fellow professionals when he was presented with the Hamblin Memorial Prize 2015 by Eddie Watson of Boots Opticians recently at the Hilton Birmingham, Metropole Hotel. Gil said ‘It is really such as honour to receive this award, being recognised by your fellow professional for the work that you do is humbling but also makes me feel proud to receive this award. It’s the culmination of 35 years of delivering low vision solutions from our base here in Billingham on Belasis Avenue.

Failing vision can be distressing to live with but I’ve spent my whole career in helping people make the most of what vision they have using a host of specialist products and electronic aids to suit individual needs. I’ve travelled the world and extensively within the UK delivering Low Vision clinics helping thousands of people to make the most of their vision. I genuinely feel honoured to receive this award’. The new president of The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) is Fiona Anderson (pictured) who took over the role from Peter Black (pictured) during a handover ceremony held at the ABDO gala dinner at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole last Sunday (10 April). At the event, Ms Anderson thanked Mr Black for his dedication and hard work during the three years that he held the post and then handed over the vice presidency to Clive Marchant, who is a contact lens optician at Colin Lee Opticians. In her inaugural address, Ms Anderson outlined the challenges ahead for the association and highlighted the welcoming support and strength of “the ABDO family.”

During a moving speech reviewing his time as president, Mr Black announced that he would not be seeking to stand for reelection in the forthcoming ABDO board election. However, as immediate past president, he will become an advisor to the board for two years. At the gala dinner, special awards were also presented to ABDO stalwarts, with life membership of the association awarded to former ABDO president, Kevin Milsom, as well as ABDO’s head of CET, Paula Stevens and Huntly Taylor, who recently retired from a four-year tenure as chairman of the ABDO College board of trustees. ABDO chief finance officer, Thurailingam Pavanakumar, was awarded honorary fellowship of the association by Mr Black. Dispensing optician and low vision practitioner, Gil Smith, received the Hamblin Memorial Prize from Boots Opticians’ director of professional standards and central operation, Eddie Watson.

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