Judging the Optician Awards categories is an all-consuming process. For a busy editorial team and the network of industry experts, a panel discussion day in central London and countless hours reviewing entries beforehand is about as needed as a pair of Facebook smartglasses.

But that extra mile is what gives the Optician Awards its gravitas — its prestige. Far removed from online popularity contests and influencer judges, the process is deliberately old school, because that remains the fairest and most exacting way of deciding the winners. If you make it to the winner’s circle at the Optician Awards, you have well and truly earned it.

As much as the judging process was gruelling, it’s always enjoyable and with the way the sector is currently heading, the dedication, innovation and professionalism displayed in the entries was a very welcome tonic. I lost count of the times I found myself in awe at the length practitioners go to in order to meet the needs of their patients and be part of the community.

Judging entries is a double-edged sword, though. There are always one or two entries from practices or companies where you know the services they provide or products they supply are exemplary, but their excellence isn’t reflected in the words or evidence in their submissions and they simply cannot make the shortlists. This dedication by judges to adhere to entry criteria is another reason why the Optician Awards are so well-respected.

The ceremony takes place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on Saturday, April 4. Make a (long) weekend of it and get along to Optrafair on April 4-6 at the NEC right next door. Over the coming weeks in the lead up to the event, Optician will publish a series of Optrafair Interviews with key speakers from the show’s broad conference programme. The first, Professor Lyndon Jones, is available here https://www.opticianonline.net/features/interview-....

The Optician Awards shortlists have also been released https://www.opticianonline.net/news/the-optician-a... – congratulations to all those who made it and commiserations to those that didn’t.