HEROES in the eye health and sight loss sectors were recognised at the inaugural Vision Pioneer Awards last night.

The awards, created by the UK Vision Strategy in collaboration with RNIB and NB Online as part of the Vision UK Conference, champion and celebrate the work of professionals committed to supporting people who are blind or partially sighted.

They also aim to raise awareness of sight loss and the importance of quality eye care.

Finalists across five awards categories – Campaign of the Year, Innovation, Professional of the Year (adults), Professional of the Year (children and young people) and Team of the Year – attended the awards night hosted by blind comedian Chris McCausland on Monday, June 13.

Finalists included ELVis Chief Executive Roger Clifton for the Professional of the Year (adults) Award, the piece of work Looking Out For Sight, which is funded by TPT and being carried out by Wiltshire Sight, for the Innovation Award and the ‘Sight Loss: What we needed to know’ project team, which includes the Visionary central team, for the Team of the Year Award.

RNIB Chief Executive Lesley-Anne Alexander welcomed the finalists and supporters to the prestigious event.

“We are bringing together the brightest and best of our sector,” she said.

“Any sector is only as good as the people that work and volunteer in that sector.”

Ahead of the event Chris, who has Retinitis Pigmentosa, said it was an honour to host the Vision Pioneer Awards.

“I know first-hand the great work that eye health and sight loss professionals do,” Chris said.

He said he was happy to be involved in an event that celebrated their achievements in supporting and empowering blind and partially sighted people across the country.

Chris had the audience in stitches with his honest stories of his personal experiences including applying to be a spy for MI5 and the alternative text Apple has for its standard smiley face emoticon – “smiley face with normal eyes”.

Moorfields Eye Hospital chief executive David Probert said it was a wonderful evening hearing so many stories and about the heroes in the sectors.

The winners of the five categories were:

Campaign of the Year

No Water by Irenie Ekkeshis

Innovation

Wayfindr by Royal London Society for the Blind

Professional of the Year (Adults)

Rehabilitation Officer (Visual Impairment) at Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council and Chair of the Rehabilitation Workers’ Professional Network

Professional of the Year (Children and Young People)

Paula Varney, Family Support Officer at Vista

Team of the Year

Neuro-Ophthalmic Visual Impairment in Children clinic team at Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast Trust

More information on the awards and winner can be found at the UK Vision Strategy website.