27 February 2020

New College President and Council members welcomed at AGM

The College of Optometrists welcomed a new President and six new Council members at its AGM, held during the College’s clinical conference, Optometry Tomorrow 2020 in Telford on 24 February.

The incoming College President is existing Board member and former Vice-President, Colin Davidson FCOptom, Programme Lead at the University of Hertfordshire.  He said; “I am very proud to be taking over as President of the College. I feel honoured and privileged to represent our members and very much look forward to meeting as many members as possible over the next two years. I am looking forward to building on the great work of the Immediate Past President, Professor Mallen at this critical time in terms of the Education Strategic Review and the proposed optometry degree apprenticeship and would like to welcome our new Council members to our team.” 

The new Council members are; Clare Pearce MCOptom (Wales), Dr Grant Robinson MCOptom (Wales), Hassnain Safdar MCOptom (East Midlands), Meera Shah MCOptom (London), Professor Robert Harper FCOptom (North West) and Professor Kathryn Saunders FCOptom (Northern Ireland).

Speaking about his election to Council, Dr Grant Robinson MCOptom said; 'I am very excited to be starting my role as the new College Councillor for Wales. I feel privileged to represent the views of the optometrists of Wales to the College and look forward to contributing to the continued development of the profession.” 

Following the election process, six Council members retained their seats, they are; Tony Gibson MCOptom (North East), Laura E Sweeney MCOptom (Scotland), Lucy Blown MCOptom (South East), Eddie Pigott MCOptom (South East), Shamina Asif MCOptom (West Midlands) and Barbara Watson FCOptom (Yorkshire and Humber).

Five members of Council stepped down at the AGM and were acknowledged for their service and commitment to the College; Geraint Griffiths MCOptom (East Midlands), Russell Dawkins MCOptom (London), Ian White MCOptom (North West), Mary-Ann Sherratt MCOptom (Wales) and Angharad Hobby MCOptom (Wales). 

Members can contact their regional Council member via the College website.

Several other appointments were also announced at the AGM; Professor Leon Davies FCOptom was elected as Vice President, Prab Boparai MCOptom was elected as a Trustee, Mark Redhead was elected as the Lay Trustee; and Dr Gillian Ruddock MCOptom was re-elected as Chair of the Education & Standards Committee. Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt MCOptom, Dr Rob Hogan MCOptom and Andrew Kitchen were co-opted to the Board of Trustees for one year until the 2021 AGM.


Note to Editors

College of Optometrists’ Council 
College Council sets the strategic and professional direction of the College. Council members act as the conscience of the College, ensuring that the College remains true to its principles and accountable to members. They also act as ambassadors for colleagues in their region by sharing the College’s thinking, direction and activity, and communicating the feedback, views and ideas of their constituents. 

New President and Council member biographies: 

Colin Davidson FCOptom 
Colin currently works part-time for the University of Hertfordshire where he is programme lead for independent prescribing. He also works in independent practice in East Sussex, and at Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton where he works in both A&E and uveitis clinics. He is a senior assessor for the College and an OSCE chief examiner. He is a former member of East Sussex LOC and a current member of the education faculty at the Johnson and Johnson Institute. Colin was awarded a Diploma in Independent Prescribing Dip TP(IP) in 2011, and Fellowship of the College in 2013.

Prof Robert Harper FCOptom
Robert Harper is an Optometrist Consultant at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, an Honorary Professor of Optometry in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester and a Visiting Professor in Optometry at City, University of London.  His role encompasses clinical practice within the HES, research, undergraduate and post-graduate teaching, and training and continuing education for post-graduate optometrists. He is also actively engaged in examining and wider professional matters. Areas of clinical and research interest include glaucoma, diagnostic test evaluation, low vision rehabilitation, and enhanced schemes within optometry.  He has presented nationally and internationally for over 3 decades and been lead applicant or co-applicant on grants amounting to over £3 million. Robert has authored a glaucoma handbook and over 100 papers, including over 70 papers in the peer reviewed literature. He has fostered links between the HES and community optometry for many years and in 2015 was awarded Life Fellowship by the College for his contribution to the profession.  He is currently an expert panel member for NICE, an external examiner at Cardiff, and an optometry member of the RCOphth external reviewer team.

Clare Pearce MCOptom 
Clare Pearce has worked in optics since beginning her degree in 2001 at Cardiff University. She then began her career in Bridgend Specsavers where she supervised a pre-reg student and became part of the clinical management team. In 2012 she set up an independent practice within a medical centre in Cardiff and feels passionate about building and maintaining good relationships with other professionals within primary care. Clare is learning British Sign Language in order to improve communication with her Deaf patients and fulfil her aim of making optometry accessible to all.

Dr Grant Robinson MCOptom 
Grant is a teacher at the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) based at Cardiff University. He qualified from Cardiff University in 2008 and remained in Wales to complete his pre-registration year. Since passing his professional qualifying exam in 2009 he has worked as an optometrist across a range of practices in North West England and South Wales. In 2018 he was awarded a PhD at Cardiff University for his research into the pathogenesis and treatment of age-related macular degeneration. In addition to his work for WOPEC, Grant continues to practice as a locum optometrist and is an assessor for the Wales Eye Care Service. 

Hassnain Safdar MCOptom 
Hassnain graduated from Aston University in 2016 and completed his pre-reg with Specsavers in 2017. Currently, he practices as a locum optometrist in a variety of multiple and independent practices. He was the inaugural LOCSU Student ambassador in 2016 and remains an active committee member of the Leicestershire and Rutland LOC since 2019. In addition, he is a junior faculty member for the Johnson and Johnson Institute STEP programme where he mentors other pre-reg students and sits on the newly-qualified reference panel for the College. Hassnain is passionate on building a strong relationship between primary and secondary care and strives to promote the role Optometrists can play in an increasingly stretched NHS.

Prof Kathryn Saunders FCOptom 
Kathryn Saunders is a Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at Ulster University in Northern Ireland. Her research interests include the development of refractive error in infancy and childhood in typically developing children and in the presence of developmental disability. She has led the Northern Ireland Childhood Errors of Refraction (NICER) study, a large longitudinal epidemiological study of refractive error, for the past 12 years. The NICER study has provided new insight into the prevalence, onset and progression of myopia in modern school age children living in the UK. Kathryn has published over 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is actively involved in undergraduate and postgraduate optometry teaching, including leading the College-accredited Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eyecare at Ulster University. In addition to academic and research work, Kathryn remains a practising optometrist with a strong interest in translational research which improves vision care and visual outcomes for people with and without special needs.

Meera Shah MCOptom 
Meera qualified in 2007 from Anglia Ruskin University with a first class honours degree. In her final year she was awarded the AOP prize for the best overall performance in the Legal and Business aspects of Optometry Module. Since qualification she has worked in a variety of roles at Boots Opticians. Her roles have included working as both a resident & mobile Optometrist and within that time she has supervised several Pre Reg Optometrists. In the last 6 years she has worked as a Clinical Governance Optometrist in the London area within the Professional services team at Boots Opticians. Her current role involves working with a wide variety of Optometrists all in different stages in their career and working with different stakeholders across the organisation. Meera is passionate about supporting Optometrists to deliver high clinical standards and compliance with patient centred care. 

About the College 
The College is the professional body for optometry. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and health care professionals.