Our 2018 Awards for Excellence winners announced

Posted: Thursday 27 September 2018

Our annual Awards for Excellence celebrated their 10th birthday this year. The awards are our opportunity to recognise and reward the amazing work that goes into providing services and care for people with macular disease.

Huge congratulations to all of the 2018 winners.

Chairman’s Award for Fundraising

Ben and Sarah Dodkin: Ben and Sarah have raised almost £10,000 for the charity since 2016 when their son, Finley, was diagnosed with a juvenile dystrophy. Since then, the pair have been involved in a wide range of fundraising activities for the charity, with friends and family joining in at every opportunity to boost their efforts.

Sarah says: “The best thing about fundraising has been being able to raise the awareness of juvenile dystrophy in particular as lots of people think macular disease is a condition that only affects older people. We’ve never been nominated for anything like this before and feel very honoured.”

Ben says: “We couldn't have raised the amount of awareness or money we have without the support of those around us. We’ve quite often found ourselves overwhelmed by friends’ and strangers’ generosity. It’s been such a humbling experience and we’re so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful friends, family, colleagues and the wider local community.”

Chairman’s Award for Volunteering

Pat McGeough: Former Royal Air Force engineer Pat has fulfilled almost every volunteer role within the charity in the past eight years. In addition to being a Skills for Seeing trainer, Gadget Guide volunteer and speaker, he is also vice-chair of the Lincoln and District Macular Support Group.

Pat says: “I was diagnosed with macular degeneration myself back in 2002 after a routine eye test. It was a really scary thing – I’d never heard of it before. I was told that I would lose my sight and that was that; there was nothing I could do about it.

“When I retired in 2008, I decided I wanted to use some of my spare time to help out as a volunteer. I get a lot of enjoyment from Skills for Seeing training especially. On one occasion, it enabled a lady I was teaching to be able to see a photo of her grandchildren for the first time, so it’s really satisfying to know that you’ve been able to help.”

Clive Skinner: Clive recently stood down after 18 years as leader of the Macular Society Hull Group. A member for more than two decades, he also helped to shape the work of the Macular Society all over the UK during a spell as a national trustee and as head of its finance committee.

In addition, Clive has developed strong, long-standing relationships with Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire and Hull and East Riding Eye Hospital. He has been heavily involved in the development of eye care services in the area, helping to re-establish a local low vision clinic, and ensuring the hospital had an eye clinic liaison officer.

Clive says: “Volunteering for the Macular Society has brought me a lot. I’ve even been invited to attend one of the Queen’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace through my involvement with the Society, which was a wonderful experience. The charity has evolved so much; it’s almost unrecognisable from the one I joined and that’s very satisfying.”

Clinical Service of the Year

Edward Herbert – Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton: Consultant ophthalmic surgeon Edward Herbert was chosen in recognition of his exceptionally good practice in caring for people with macular disease.

Edward says: “It is a great honour; it reflects the hard work and dedication of the whole macular service team at Taunton, delivering these sight-saving treatments for our patients.

“In Taunton we have been at the forefront of many of the developments in service delivery to ensure timely access to treatment despite growing demand. We are constantly working to improve the service for our patients, and support them living with macular degeneration.”

The James West Treatment Centre – Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield: One patient, who wrote to the charity to nominate the James West Treatment Centre team, said he ‘cannot speak too highly of the whole team and how I have been treated and cared for from the outset’, having being a patient of the team for the past 10 years. He also praised the team for their ‘use of innovative practices, which have improved the care of patients’, including the introduction of a ‘one-stop clinic’ for people with macular disease.

Optician / Optometrist of the Year

Nynisha Patel: Nynisha has worked in the eyecare sector since 1986 and run New Bank Optical in Blackburn since 2008. She is a member of East Lancashire Areas Local Optical Committee and also acts as an assessor of objective structured clinical examinations (OSECs), helping to nurture the talents of future optometrists as they train towards their own careers in eyecare.

“A patient who has been coming to me for many years asked me if I would be happy for her to nominate me for this year’s awards, which was very kind of her to do. I said that if she felt I was worthy of a nomination, then I was happy for her to put my name forward, but I really wasn’t expecting to win.

“I love what I do, especially anything relating to follow-up testing for people who have serious eye conditions, because it can make such a difference to their lives.”

Rising Star of the Year

Dr Simon Clark: Dr Clark, who is based at the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, has been rewarded for his pioneering research into macular disease.

Alongside his cutting-edge research, he has been praised for his editorial and scientific contributions to a number of respected scientific journals, as well as his close collaboration with other universities throughout the world. He has also been helping inspire budding scientists by regularly hosting students at his laboratory, enabling them to learn more about macular disease.

Dr Clark says: “The thought that the work I’m doing could lead to a major breakthrough in the treatment of macular disease is what gets me out of bed in the morning – it’s a real honour to be doing this. We’ve reached an exciting point now; by 2020, we’ll hopefully be in a position to start the first phase of clinical trials of the new treatments we’ve been working on.

“The trial could last for a number of years, and of course there are no guarantees and we have to be cautious, but if it’s successful, it could be a major step forward.”

Alan Alderman Award

Professor Pete Coffey and Professor Lyndon da Cruz:

This award, named in honour of the Macular Society’s popular former chairman, recognises exceptional service to people with macular conditions and the charity, over a significant period of time.

Professors Coffey and da Cruz have been named joint recipients of this year’s award for their pioneering work at the London Project to Cure Blindness. Recently, in a trial partly funded by the Macular Society, two patients who had substantial sight loss caused by wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) had new retinal pigment epithethial (RPE) cells carefully injected into place to ‘patch’ the areas of damage (see Sideview, Issue 124).


After 12 months, one patient, who had been unable to read, could now read more than 47 words per minute. The other, who had previously been able to read less than two words per minute, had improved to more than 80 words per minute.


Nominations for the 2019 Awards for Excellence will open in Spring 2019.