The hallowed ground of Apothecaries' Hall - home of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WCSM) - saw Adrian Baxter praised for his very high standard of optical manufacturing exams.
Adrian, who is also an archaeology graduate, was awarded the annual Wiseman Memorial Prize in recognition of his expertise in the two-year SMC Tech Level 4 examinations.
The Wokingham lab technician said he was keen to undertake the training - arguably the toughest in the world in spectacle manufacturing - when he heard about the course. "I just love studying and the course reignited my passion for learning," said Adrian. "I got a lot out of the training, particularly understanding about the physics and some quite abstract concepts."
During the awards ceremony the new WCSM Master, Felicity Harding, praised the dedication of all of the students who had been awarded qualifications in optical manufacturing and practice support knowledge. "You are our future, and will in turn pass on these skills to others," she said.
Trustees of the Optical Workers’ Benevolent Fund, which provides support for those who have worked within the ophthalmic production industry and who find themselves in difficult times, are urging support through legacies.
In addition to the manufacturing support charity, the Trustees are also encouraging the optical community to remember The Wiseman Memorial Fund which provides support and education grants for UK ophthalmic students looking to further their knowledge, often with voluntary work overseas.
Any sums donated to these charities are taken out of the inheritance tax threshold and can reduce the total owing to HMRC, besides benefitting those within our own optical community, say Trustees. As Professor Mo Jalie, a Trustee of both funds, commented –
“The Optical Workers’ Benevolent Fund provides a very valuable level of support for people who have supported the great family of UK optics but who now find themselves in difficult times. Some of our beneficiaries result from serious health issues which mean they are no longer able to work. The Wiseman Memorial Fund – from which many in optics today have benefitted – provides funds for needy optometry students in their second or third year of their courses who have the full backing of their tutors.”
The Wiseman Fund is keen to sponsor a limited number of young people who are interested in gaining work experience within manufacturing optics. Established in 1957 as a memorial to Max Wiseman, a well-respected industry figure, the charity is looking at the most effective means of supporting young people.
Gaining work experience is believed to be one of the most pressing needs. “Practical, hands-on experience is often difficult to find and so we are looking to help young people to gain some insight into optical manufacturing whilst not causing any expense to the companies concerned. This scheme would allow a limited number to gain some knowledge and inspire them to join the industry,” say The Wiseman Fund Trustees.
The intention is to provide a two week work placement within an established lab for interested young people to gain an insight into the nature of manufacturing optics. Travel and subsistence expenses, and where necessary some accommodation costs, will be met by the Fund. Any companies wishing to discuss the opportunities of the scheme should contact the Trustees here
The support of the Wiseman Memorial Fund has been repaid some 42 years after helping a struggling optometry student, much to the delight of the charity’s trustees.
Malkiad Singh, who set up his practice, Eyes Rite Opticians in Dovercourt, Harwich, 30 years ago, has always remembered the support that he received from the benevolent charity back in 1971. “I came from Tanzania to study optometry at Glasgow and had very little money.
The £50 donation from the Wiseman Memorial Fund paid the whole year’s fees and I met the rest of my costs by working in restaurants. I have always been very grateful for this support and have not forgotten the kindness. Now I can afford to remember those who helped me in the past, but I am still working out what the interest should be! I am sure that money can now be used to help someone else,” said the 67 year old.
Mr Singh, who worked initially in Scotland and then moved to Colchester Hospital before setting up his practice, is involved in much local charitable work and volunteered as a Games Maker working with the disabled athletes at the Olympic park last summer.
Chairman of the Wiseman Memorial Fund, John Andrews, commented – “It was wonderful to hear that a donation by earlier Trustees has helped a determined young man to success. We are also delighted to receive the funds back to the coffers to support more youngsters.”