The 1980s made an apposite backdrop for this year’s Optician Awards providing both contrast and links to the past, showcasing a decade currently enjoying a comeback.

The era must go down as one of the most momentous in optics, marking the end of universal free eye examinations, the rise of the retail optical corporate and the end of the ubiquitous NHS specs.

Technology may have provided fundus imaging, contact lenses and optical manufacturing we couldn’t have imagined in the 1980 but it hasn’t replaced the soft skills and the relationships that continue to characterise successful businesses. What hasn’t changed are the core values that run through successful optical practice. People don’t change as fast as technology and optics is a people business. How many fewer no shows do you get now everyone has a mobile phone in their pocket?

Those positive, practice core values were ably demonstrated by the Optician Awards finalists on Saturday night and I would like to congratulate them all for representing the very best in optics. Sadly there can only be as many winners as there are trophies so to the 18 people, practices and products that won, I offer hearty congratulations. I would also like to thank everyone who entered.

Optician aims to give something back to the optical profession by hosting the Awards to recognise and reward excellence so I would also like to thank our sponsors for helping our 500-plus guests celebrate in style. Our main sponsors: AEL Markhams, Alcon, Asda Opticians, Coopervision, Hoya, Johnson & Johnson and Transitions really are the guys putting their money where their mouth is by supporting optical businesses. They certainly deserve your support in the coming year if you are given the opportunity.