Interview: Gordon Ilett, chairman of SeeAbility

Zoe Wickens talks to Gordon Ilett about his new role as chairman of SeeAbility and what his future plans for the charity are

Optometrist Gordon Ilett, as of October 2018, become the new chairman of charity SeeAbility. The charity is registered as the Royal School for the Blind and will celebrate its 220th anniversary next year. SeeAbility has 26 care settings across the UK and started off as a school teaching poorer blind people how to look after themselves.

Ilett’s start in optometry was a result of him not wanting ‘to chop up bodies or work as a medic.’ He was working as an optometrist and a partner in a group of practices in Bexley, Sevenoaks and Chislehurst, when he realised that the medical notes of people released from institutional settings in Bexley did not follow them to their new practices. ‘I decided to help sort the problem out and my philanthropy has stemmed from there really,’ says Ilett. ‘I believe disabled people have a right to a state-funded eye examination that has been appropriately adjusted in terms of either time or setting. Optometrists have the capability to do this, but do not always have the financial capacity, often because of a lack of government funding. That’s why we’re training more optometrists to make adjustments for people with disabilities.’

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