29 November 2021

Thomas Harvey Collingridge, MA, HonFCOptom: 1934-2021

We are very sorry to announce the death of Tom Collingridge HonFCOptom

Tom Collingridge, who has died aged 87, served as General Secretary of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians from November 1980 until May 1992. During this time, the College established itself as the sole qualifying association for optometry in the United Kingdom. It is an historical quirk that all Foundation Fellow certificates, dated 1 March 1980, bear his signature, but that is because they were not in fact issued until 1981. Although appointed to a new role, combining the transitional posts of Administrative and Academic Secretaries, he served for the first two years in parallel with one of his predecessors, Peter Smith, who remained as Secretary of the British Optical Association until the organisation was formally wound up in 1982.

Mr Collingridge hosted the College’s first international conference in 1984 and steered the College through the challenges of de-regulation of optics in the mid to late 1980s, as well as a name change to the British College of Optometrists, in 1987. Throughout this period the College was based in Knaresborough Place, Earls Court and comprised no more than twenty administrative staff. Friday afternoon staff drinks on the roof terrace became a regular fixture and the College became known as a congenial family-oriented workplace.

/COO/media/Media/Images/Museum/Lives of our members/Thomas-Harvey-Collingridge.jpg
Thomas Harvey Collingridge HonFCOptom: 1934-2021

An Oxford history graduate, Mr Collingridge undertook military service in the Parachute Regiment and was a District Officer in the British Protectorate of Tanganyika for four years before its independence in 1961. Subsequently he worked for a regulatory body, the General Dental Council, before switching to serve the optometry profession. On retirement from the College he became the first Secretary of the Optical Consumer Complaints Service  (OCCS), overseeing its formal launch in January 1993 but stepping down, as planned, after one year. During this year the OCCS was housed at the General Optical Council, although it would subsequently share premises with the AOP. Also in January 1993, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the College. He retired to Alderney in the Channel Islands where he suffered a serious stroke in 2015, from which he had recovered fairly well, albeit with some frustrating continuing restrictions to his powers of speech. In April 2021 he was diagnosed with cancer but continued to live relatively independently until close to the end.