Ruth Perrott Awarded MBE
Ruth Perrott has been awarded a MBE for her work in supporting visually impaired patients in Africa in the New Year honours list. Ruth has visited the African Continent sixteen times, providing spectacles, low vision aids and optical training for remote village communities and hospitals. Up until the onset of COVID-19 she has travelled on an annual basis.
Ruth works in Acomb, York as a Behavioural or Developmental Optometrist providing specialist help to children and adults with reading difficulties. She also assists brain injured and stroke patients recover their vision.
Talking to SightCare Ruth said, “It feels an honour and a privilege to have this work recognised. Looking back over 30 years of collecting and recycling spectacles the system has grown and improved over the 16 trips done to various parts of Africa.
The first seven were with Vision Aid Overseas and this included some teaching. However, with support from local Rotary and Lions Groups, the spectacles were piling up at this end and I needed an outlet. VAO stopped the direct service clinics and so I continued this service alone.
Spectacles recycling continues to this day. With the valuable assistance of Rotary York Ainsty every pair is washed, serviced, focimetered, and labelled and I have been able to supply extra clinics in Kenya, Yemen, Sri Lanka and Fiji Islands where I know sufficient expertise exists to handle the distribution.
Many thousands of people have had their quality of life restored and can continue to work and support a family thanks to their new spectacles. Demand is high and job satisfaction drives me on.
The award states ‘for the work with visually impaired..’ It might be interesting to ask how many UK people might consider themselves visually impaired if they had to sacrifice their spectacles?”.
Throughout her involvement in the SpecSort project, Ruth has received support from Rotary York Ainsty who help sort, cleanse, measure and pack the spectacles into libraries of spectacles, so essential to her work. The SpecSort project started in 1991 following Ruth’s visit to the Cameroon with a combined Vision Aid Overseas and Operation Raleigh project. Since then, Rotary York Ainsty have met monthly (now remotely!). More recent visits to Africa have supported rural projects throughout Malawi, the Casamance Delta region in Senegal and a Rotary project in Tanzania.
A huge congratulations from all of us to Ruth for this great work and honour – we are very proud.