Firmly established as the biggest night in the UK’s optical calendar, this year’s Optician Awards night took on a new poignance as a waypoint towards a semblance of normality.

It was a long time coming but the excitement, relief and joy were palpable at the presentation ceremony in London last week. Like an oasis of bliss in a desert of misery, the Optician Awards beckoned nearly 500 optical folk to the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane where excellence in optics was recognised, rewarded and celebrated.

On a personal level there was more than a hint of emotion among the guests meeting and greeting over drinks and dinner but it was the overwhelming sense of optics, as a group, enjoying the action of celebrating the profession that remains with me.

One of Covid’s many negative effects has been to inflict a desire for in-person social contact on people and optics has been no exception; the Optician Awards provided a brief touch.

Making predictions about the path of the pandemic is foolhardy, but I believe wherever it takes us, the 2021 Awards night will remain in many people’s hearts as a few hours of absolute relief.

I also believe that this year’s 19 winners have a collector’s item of a trophy.

Two special awards were presented to Covid Heroes, but the dedication of practices in the face of the pandemic ran through all entries. Winning an award is always an achievement; this year even more so.

Optician has always hosted the awards in an effort to give something back to the profession. This year entrants proved the profession deserved a celebration to beat all celebrations. From where I was standing I think they got just that.