Introduction to the Association of Ophthalmic Opticians in Bedfordshire
By Martin Turner
It was in 2010 that Martin Turner attended Bedfordshire’s LOC AGM as a former Secretary of the LOC. He said at the end of the meeting that in his possession he had some historical minutes, from Bedfordshire’s Association of Ophthalmic Opticians. Apparently, this Association became Bedfordshire’s LOC as we know it today and Martin was thinking about writing an” Article” on it’s early days. Following discussions at the meeting it was decided that Martin should undertake that task.
By the time the 2011 AGM came round he had changed his mind and lost all enthusiasm for the task he had initiated. So at that meeting he said:
“He had suspended all plans to present a Review of the Activities of the LOC in Past Years because the task was, boring and anyway who was interested?”
However, in the light of further discussions at that meeting he was persuaded to reconsider and he decided to see what could be gained by continuing his efforts.
In the spring of 2012 Martin contacted me to say that the task had not been boring at all and indeed had been most interesting and thoroughly rewarding. Much knowledge had been gained about those early days, in particular those involved, the reasons for the formation of the Association and the objectives. His historical narrative outlines clearly the issues of the day, the people who promoted, scrutinised and pushed the boundaries of what was considered progress for all who embraced the Association. The colourful characters, who promoted ideas which we might think bazaar by today’s standards, are amusingly put forward by Martin and make a joy to read.
I guess Martin was the right man in the right place at the right time to undertake this task. He was an elder statesman for optometry in Bedfordshire at that time and had followed in the footsteps of his father, who had been an “Ophthalmic Optician” in Biggleswade.
I personally got to know Martin later in his life in the 1990’s, when I joined the LOC at the same time as he did. When he became secretary we worked together on the educational programme of the LOC and organised yearly conferences etc. Later he became the wise man that I often consulted as Chairman. He was an examiner for the old British Optical Association (BOA) and worked at the London Refraction Hospital (LRH) now known as the Institute of Optometry.
Martin worked as an optometrist for most of his life and only stopped when he became ill in 2012. He completed part one of his review of the Association but part two, on the early days of the NHS and the new Bedfordshire LOC, he never completed. His intention was to have a break in the second half of 2012 and return to the matter in 2013. However, sadly Martin died early in 2013.
I guess the legacy that he leaves is a rich source of how locally in Bedfordshire things began in our profession. As to it’s relevance to today’s issues it can be argued there is none or very little.
However, historical narratives tell us exactly what has passed. But that narrative too gives us clues about the present and the future. The difference is that you have to look hard for them; but they are there.
Stuart Robinson 2016
Past Chairman Bedfordshire LOC