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Looked back upon by Chairman Frank Barraclough at the anniversary AGM in 2007

I will always regret not starting collecting at the same time as I qualified as an optometrist (in those days an ophthalmic optician) in 1952.  In the first place, items would have been far easier to obtain and, secondly, very much cheaper than they have become in later years.  In the event, my interest was first kindled by patients occasionally coming in with old spectacles to give to me as they thought I might be interested. Mostly they were from earlier in the 20th century but on one occasion I was given a steel round-eye pair which, much later, I would learn to date circa 1760. I would put the gifts carefully away in a box, with the half-formed idea of eventually putting them on display in my practice's reception area as A History of Spectacles.

The pressures of the period however, - starting my own practice, fathering a family of five children, the tragic loss of my first wife, Sylvia, in 1971 at the age of 40 and the ongoing expansion of my practice to encompass eventually 4 partners and 6 establishments  left my ideas and interest in antiques still in the background.
Then, in 1980, my new wife, Joan, bought me a book, Corson's Fashions in Eyeglasses, which certainly re-stimulated my latent interest. However, it was not until Derek Davidson, retired from his optical dispensing businesses, put his notices in The Optician early in 1982, seeking interested people to form a club, that I became actively involved in collecting. Although preceded by such eminent worthies as Ronald MacGregor and Hugh Orr, I still take pride in being number 16 on Derek's list and on becoming one of the Club's first officers, albeit in the humble position of Minutes Secretary. My knowledge of ophthalmic antiques increased dramatically in the company of such experts and, with children now grown up and partners to run the practices, I was in a position to devote more time to what has become my major hobby and continuing interest.

For eighteen months Derek ran the Club single-handedly, contacting members, collecting subscriptions and producing The Bulletin (the title was changed to The Newsletter with Issue no.11 in 1985). He soon realized that it was much more than a one-man-job and received considerable help from the College of Optometrists, then in Knaresborough Place and their secretary Tom Collingridge, first with the printing and distribution of the Bulletin in 1983 and then by offering their premises as a venue for a first AGM in May 1984. This enabled Derek to ask for volunteers as officers and committee and the AGM resulted in Derek as Chairman, Richard (Peter) Brown as Treasurer/Membership Secretary and myself as Minutes Secretary, with George Sturrock and Alex Parvis on Committee. Ronald MacGregor took over the organization and running of the Auction, which immediately became a popular annual feature of the AGM.

The continuing growth of the Club made it difficult for Richard Brown to cope with his dual duties and, in 1988, Valerie Mellor took over as Membership Secretary, whilst Ronald took over as Editor of The Newsletter in 1990, both of which offices they still hold today. In 1991 we gained an extremely productive Publicity Officer in Stephen James and it was a tragedy and a great loss to the Club when he died suddenly in 1997. Derek, bless his old heart, was not the most organized at running a meeting and I found myself, in addition to taking the Minutes, gradually taking over the planning and running of the AGM. This culminated in my being elected Chairman upon Derek's retirement in 1994, at which time he was elected Honorary Life President of the Club. The position of a sixth officer was established in 1996, when Gordon Turner was elected as Excursions Officer and, at the same AGM, Richard Brown retired after 12 years as Treasurer to be succeeded by the current incumbent Alan Leach, who has also taken over the role of Auctioneer.

The progress and development of the Club has been entirely dependent upon the untiring work put in by the above-mentioned elected officers and committee, which includes members Udo Timm and Mike Ling both with over 10 years service. The Club could not have survived, let alone prospered, without the continuing support and intensive activity of so many people and it is a tribute to Derek Davidson that he was able to gather them together to enable his dream to become a reality. The first twenty-five years have been very successful and have seen the Club reach an established position in the world of ophthalmic antiques and the Newsletter become a well-respected archive of optical history, consulted and quoted by many authors and authorities.
I must say that the 2007 AGM, with its influx of new blood and new ideas, gives me every hope that the next twenty-five years will see the Club continue to thrive and expand upon the firm foundations already laid.

ROLL OF HONOUR as at 2018

The first election was in 1984, resulting in officers Derek Davidson, treasurer Richard (Peter) Brown, Minute Secretary Frank Barraclough, with George Sturrock and Alex Parvis on committee.
The late Derek Davidson served 12 years as Chairman from 1982 to 1994. He was then elected as Honorary Life President, which he held until his death.
The late Richard Brown served 12 years as Treasurer from 1984 to 1996.
Valerie Mellor served 23 years as Membership Secretary from 1988 to 2011, upon her retirement she was co-opted back as a Committee Member.
Ronald MacGregor was Auctioneer from 1984 and served 19 years as Editor from 1990 to 2009.
Frank Barraclough served 20 years as Chairman from 1994 to 2014 and was 21 years as Minute Secretary from 1984. Upon his retirement as Chairman he was elected as Honorary Life President.

The late Stephen James served 7 years as Publicity Officer from 1991 to 1997.
Alan Leach served 17 years as Treasurer from 1996 to 2013. Upon his retirement he was elected as Club Auction Officer having previously performed that function.
Gordon Turner served 11 years as Excursions Officer from 1996 to 2007.
Graeme Holland has currently served 11 years as Excursions Officer since 2007.
John Dixon-Salt served six years as Vice-Chairman before taking over as Chairman in 2014.
Peter Watkins
is currently serving his ninth year as Membership Secretary and also took over as Treasurer in 2013.

George Sturrock is the longest serving Committee Member with 32 years from 1984 until  his retirement in 2016.
Udo Timm has currently served 22 years as Committee Member since 1996.
Mike Ling has currently served 20 years as Committee Member since 1998.
Neil Handley, Curator of the BOA Museum at the College of Optometrists, has currently served 20 years as a co-opted Member of the Committee since 1998.

The late Tim Bowden served as Editor for 8 years from 2009.

Our current Editor, David Baker, commenced with the January 2018 Issue No 142.