Our 2019 Awards for Excellence winners announced

Posted: Monday 23 September 2019

Each year, we recognise and reward the amazing work that goes into providing services and care for people with macular disease with our Awards for Excellence, presented at our Annual Conference.

Thank you to everyone who made a nomination, and to everyone who was nominated. Congratulations to the winners of our 2019 Awards for Excellence.

Chairman’s Award for Volunteering

Pat Clemow: Pat is celebrating her 10th year as leader of the Worthing Area Macular Society Support Group. She is a Skills for Seeing trainer and Gadget Guide volunteer, and also runs a practical advice and information helpdesk for people with macular disease at Goring Hall Hospital, which she has done since 2015.

Pat said: “I really enjoy all of the volunteering activities I do for the Macular Society and it’s so rewarding. It also helps raise awareness of macular disease and why it’s so important that a cure is urgently found.

“I find that having experienced the problems people commonly have when they’re diagnosed with macular disease, it reassures them that I’ve been there and I get what they’re talking about. And I find I learn a lot from the people I’m there to help too, especially in how they live their lives with sight loss.”

Marge Rose: Marge has been a member of the Macular Society since 2012. Some of her many achievements include successfully securing funding from the National Lottery to start an equipment bank. She has also obtained grants from several local organisations to fund transport to and from the Macular Society Support Group’s meetings for members who live in Buxton and the surrounding area.

“For me, it’s important to do this and help others. Not everyone who has macular disease knows about the support that’s out there for them or has a full understanding of what the condition is.

“Things move on, often pretty quickly, so it’s essential that we’re here to provide the correct and most up-to-date information about macular disease.”

Clinical Service of the Year

Retinal Therapy Unit, Moorfields Eye Hospital: The team, led by consultant ophthalmologist Declan Flanagan, has been rewarded for its exceptionally good practice in caring for people with macular disease.

Declan Flanagan said: “Winning this award is a reflection of the outstanding dedication of Moorfields staff across our entire clinical service to provide the best possible care for our patients. We are delighted to be recognised for our efforts as we continue to strive for excellence in all areas.”

Professor Robert MacLaren: Professor MacLaren is a practising consultant ophthalmologist at the Oxford Eye Hospital and leads a research team in the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology. His nomination highlighted his pioneering and innovative gene therapy work and his use of robotic surgery to help those affected by retinal diseases.

He said: “I’m honoured. Our research team in Oxford has been at the forefront of developing gene therapy treatments for macular diseases and earlier this year we were recognised as having led the first gene therapy trial to treat the dry form of AMD.”

Optician or Optometrist of the Year

Denise Voon: Denise is principal optometrist for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which sees her dividing her time between Amersham Hospital, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Wycombe Hospital.

Denise said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever been nominated for anything like this, so to be chosen as one of the winners is really humbling. It still hasn’t really sunk in – I had to keep looking at the email from the Macular Society confirming that I’d won to make sure it was true! I still can’t quite believe it to be honest – it’s very special.”

Jayshree Vasani: Jayshree has been a dispensing optician for three decades. She divides her time between working in practice at Skye Optometrists in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, and in several roles for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO). She has recently been working alongside Visualise Training and Consultancy to deliver ‘Seeing Beyond the Eyes’, a nationwide roadshow aimed at giving eye care professionals a greater knowledge and understanding of sight loss and patients’ needs.

Jayshree said: “I still enjoy being in practice, but a huge part of what I do now is making sure that our sector continues to give patients what they need. I love the networking, listening to what others are doing and sharing ideas. Learning should never stop, whatever you do.”

Rising Star of the Year

Dr Omar Mahroo: Dr Omar Mahroo is a Wellcome Clinician Scientist and retinal specialist for Moorfields NHS Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’. He was chosen for his cutting-edge research into building a greater understanding of retinal disease and developing better ways of directly assessing retinal function. He was also praised for his efforts to educate fellow ophthalmologists about retinal conditions and commitment to always putting patients first.

Dr Mahroo said: “It’s great to be recognised for my work so early on in my career. This award further motivates me to continue to work towards better understanding of macular disease, which could help us find cures.”

Alan Alderman Award

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

Dennis Lewis: Dennis founded and ran the Macular Society’s Counselling Service for more than 19 years until his retirement at the end of 2018. He served as a trustee from 2001-2006, helped launch the charity’s Befriending Service and has taken part in numerous fundraising activities, including running the London Marathon in 2005, aged 55.

Dennis said: “It was a bit of a bolt from the blue. I retired at the end of last year; I had a lovely send-off from everyone at the Society and I thought that was it. But it’s a great honour – now I’ve had time to think about it, I’m thinking ‘wow’.

“I’m particularly pleased too that I introduced the concept of emotional support into the thinking of the Society, and it’s now entrenched there. That’s so important – and the rest of the world seems to agree. You hear the phrase everywhere now and that’s especially nice.”

Nominations for the 2020 Awards for Excellence will open in Spring 2020.