15 November 2023

Outstanding contributions to the College and profession recognised with Life and Honorary Fellowship

The College of Optometrists has awarded three new Life Fellowships and two new Honorary Fellowships in 2023 to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the profession or to the College.

The three new Life Fellows are Dr James Gilchrist FCOptom, Professor Andrew Jonathan Jackson FCOptom DipTp(IP) and Dr David Parkins FCOptom.

Since 2017, Dr Gilchrist has advised the UK Specific Learning Difficulties Assessment Standards Committee (SASC) and is co-author of the SASC Guidance on Specific Learning Difficulties and Visual Difficulties. He enjoyed an academic career in optometry at the University of Bradford, first as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer, and later from 2008-13 as Head of Optometry and Vision Science. Between 2012 until his retirement from the University in 2019, he was Chair of the Optometry Schools Council UK & EU and a member of Council at The College of Optometrists. His published work in academic research journals and optometry textbooks spans the areas of visual perception and psychophysics, methodology and statistics, and optometry practice.

Professor Jackson is a hospital optometrist who, has pursued a career in secondary care optometry for almost forty years, working in teaching hospitals, universities and professional colleges in Northern Ireland, England and Australia. Currently Director of Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network, he has held positions at the NI Business Support Organisation (BSO/CSA) and the NI Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and served as an editorial board member on Optometry in Practice (OiP) for 23 years.

Dr Parkins is London Eye Health Network Chair (NHS England), a member of the London Clinical Senate Council and a registrant council member of the General Optical Council. He was President of The College of Optometrists from 2014-16 and Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning from 2015-17. David has practiced in primary care for most of his career, as well as providing a hospital medical contact lens service for 20 years. He has been a trustee of several charities and is currently Chair of the Spectacle Makers Charity.

The two new Honorary Fellows are Parul Desai HonFCOptom and Melanie Hingorani HonFCOptom.

Parul is a Consultant in Public Health and a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. Parul is a dedicated advocate for evidence-based, collaborative working in health systems delivering whole pathways of care, most recently during her tenure as Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning. She has led on the development of national audit, standards and metrics for eye health services and on the Atlas of variation in risk factors and healthcare for vision in England.

Melanie is a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Clinical Director of External Engagement and Policy at the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Previously Moorfields’ Clinical Director for Quality and Safety, she is also joint Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and has acted as their Chair of Professional Standards and Chair of the Quality and Safety Group. She founded and chairs the UK Ophthalmology Alliance, which includes over 95 hospital eye unit members across the UK working together to drive service transformation nationally and provide practical support to regions and hospitals to improve care.

Professor Leon Davies FCOptom, President of the College of Optometrists, said:

“Fellowship is The College’s highest accolade. It is how we recognise and celebrate the achievements of some of the most dedicated and talented individuals working within eye and vision care practice, and their outstanding contributions to the advancement of the profession.”

The College also awarded four Fellowships by Portfolio. These recognise achievement in the workplace and are awarded for outstanding contributions to furthering excellence in the practice of optometry.

This year’s recipients are:

Dr Ian Beasley FCOptom; Dr Irene Ctori FCOptom; Dr Jasleen Kaur Jolly FCOptom; Dr Rakhee Shah FCOptom.

The achievements of College members were also celebrated through the awarding of Higher Qualifications and Research Excellence Awards. Higher qualification courses are designed to enhance optometrists’ professional knowledge and skills in high-priority clinical areas, extending their scope of practice and the range of services and care they can offer patients. They are developed and delivered by universities and hospitals and accredited by The College of Optometrists.

All the awards were presented at the annual Diploma Ceremony on Tuesday 07 November 2023 at Central Hall, Westminster where the College was also delighted to welcome more than 460 new optometrists into its membership.

Related further reading

How women are taking the lead In optometry and changing the face of the profession.

A message from Leon Davies, College President

A message from Leon Davies, College President