Gunnedah’s resident optometrist Tim Duffy has been recognised for “excellence in optometry”, receiving the Josef Lederer award from the Optometrists Association Australia.
The prestigious award was presented to Mr Duffy in Sydney On Sunday during an association conference.
The long-time resident said he received a message to call Andrew McKinnon from Optometry NSW/ACT, which usually meant there had been a complaint, however, he was surprised to find he’d been nominated for an award instead.
Mr Duffy said he accepted the nomination despite feeling “quite overwhelmed”.
“I was flabbergasted, quite amazed… and quite humbled because you just do the thing you do and you do the best you can for people,” he said.
“I accepted the award as one of many rural optometrists who don’t share the limelight.
“We’re the ones who over the years have been slowly expanding the role of optometrists.”
Mr Duffy said a key role of rural optometrists was providing better access to eye care and addressing a wider range of problems, demanding more “skills, knowledge and experience”.
The optometrist has been practising since 1983, and opened Tim Duffy Optometry in Gunnedah in 1985.
“I was always interested in maths and science at school. Vision was always fascinating; how the eye works, how vision works,” he said.
Mr Duffy said optometry still holds interest for him because "it evolves all the time”.
“I’ve grown with it. If it wasn’t continually changing and getting better, it would do your head in,” he said.
“The new equipment stimulates you and keeps you learning.”
Mr Duffy started out with one staff member in his Gunnedah practice – a part-time receptionist – and two main pieces of equipment. Four buildings and 32 years later, he has two practices, at least eight pieces of equipment, and 17 staff – 11 in Gunnedah and six in Narrabri.
“The biggest change – the greatest innovation – is the technology that’s available these days,” he said.
“We’ve got the best equipment. We can provide a much higher standard of care.”
Gunnedah staff member Heidi Mainey has been working alongside the optometrist for 18 years.
“It’s wonderful. He’s a very good boss. It’s a very friendly and lovely workplace. The staff Tim gets, stay,” she said.
“He’s very professional, very down to earth.”
Mrs Mainey said Tim was “very good with kids” and related to everyone from “babies to 100 year old’s”.
“That’s why he’s been given such an award, because of what he’s done for the community. He’s always very giving,” he said.