Standing on stage in the Hilton Hotel holding aloft an Optician Award while hugging family, friends and colleagues as camera flashes bounce off the gleaming trophy was how all of the finalists at this year’s Award must have hoped the evening would end.

As ever there can only be so many winners as there are awards. For the 16 victors April 1, 2017, will go down as an unforgettable night. Those winners will feature in Optician this week, in our celebratory supplement next week and the profiles to follow through the summer. But we must not forget the achievement of the 70 or so people, practices and products that made it to the shortlists.

The recognition of becoming an Optician Award finalist should not be underestimated. In some categories the judges were stunned by the breadth and quality of the entries and struggled to whittle the numbers down to the select few.

There were practices at the presentation on Saturday night which enter the awards year after year, often making it to the shortlist, only to find an award eluding them but they renew their efforts each year.

It’s great for the winners to put a gleaming art deco Optician Awards trophy in the practice window, but I feel equally proud when I see a finalist using the Awards livery in their practice window, on their stationery or website.

What powers the Optician Awards is the passion our readers have for the profession and the kudos they place on the recognition of their peers.

I would like to send a personal thank you to everyone who entered the Optician Awards this year and to congratulate the winners and thank our sponsors AEL Markhams, Alcon, Johnson & Johnson, Hoya, Scope and the OCCS for their kind support.

See you at the finals next year.