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ABDO Medal of Excellence awarded to Jo Underwood  

ABDO Medal of Excellence awarded to Jo Underwood  


Jo Underwood, founding principal of ABDO College, has been presented with the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) Medal of Excellence in recognition for her outstanding service and commitment to the Association.


The surprise award was made by ABDO president, Daryl Newsome, during last month’s ABDO graduation and prize-giving ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral – following a citation speech delivered by ABDO head of examinations, Mark Chandler.

Jo qualified as a dispensing optician in 1976 from City and East London College, becoming a Fellow of the Association of Dispensing Opticians. In September 1977, she returned to the college as a full-time lecturer, teaching on the dispensing, contact lenses and optical technicians courses.

In 1980, Jo gained the Geometric Optics of Ophthalmic Lenses qualification, and became (FADO) (Hons). She then went on to gain the CL qualification (FADO) (Hons) CL.

Jo’s keenness for optics saw her take on many committee roles, including ABDO area chair for her region. During this time she was also a practical examiner for the Faculty of Dispensing Opticians, and in 1989 she became a dispensing and contact lens examiner for ABDO. In the mid 1980s, she also became a correspondence course tutor for ABDO.

Her love for optics saw her not just teaching and examining in the UK, but also in Zimbabwe, The Bahamas, Singapore, Greece, Malaysia and India.

In 2000, Jo helped to establish ABDO College as its principal, a role she held for 21 years before retiring in 2021. Jo continues to teach and act as discipline lead at ABDO College, where she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience.

On receiving her award Jo said: “I am honoured and delighted to receive this award for things I love, and have always loved, doing.”

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