6 March 2023

Baroness Betty Boothroyd OM HonFCOptom: 1929-2023

We are saddened to report the recent death of Baroness Boothroyd OM HonFCOptom.

Baroness Boothroyd will be best remembered as both the first female Speaker of the House of Commons and the first Opposition MP to fill that role. 

A former dancer, she worked as a secretary to various Labour Party politicians from 1952 and for the JFK American Presidential campaign in 1960, before becoming a local councillor in Hammersmith and making five attempts to win a seat at Westminster. She eventually became MP for West Bromwich in 1973. 

She served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1975-1977 and Chancellor of the Open University from 1994-2006. During her time as Speaker from 1992-2000, she unveiled the purple, white and green heritage plaque to the Suffragette optometrist Victoria Lidiard (1889-1992) in Hove - combining her passions for political campaigning, the advancement of women and eye care. 

Raised to the House of Lords in 2001, as Baroness Boothroyd of Sandwell, with a keen-sighted owl at the centre of her coat-of-arms, she was able to play a greater role in the optical sector. She was involved in the formation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health, co-sponsored by the College and RNIB in 2002. Baroness Boothroyd also served as President of the Institute of Ophthalmology’s charity Fight for Sight. 

She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the College in 2005 and was a guest of honour at the College’s 25 year anniversary celebrations.