The Clerk, Mrs Helen Perkins, is at the centre of the Livery Company and acts as its Chief Executive Officer, providing continuity and support for each Master of the Company.
The Clerk took office in June 2015 following a 25-year career as a Company Secretary and qualified Chartered Governance Professional.
The Clerk’s duties include the management of admissions to membership, day to day administration of the Company’s office and compliance with legal and accounting requirements, organisation and minuting of Court and Committee meetings, relationships with members, optical bodies and organisations and the City of London, PR, event management and maintenance of the Company’s records.
The Beadle was traditionally the Company’s constable and enforcer. Today the Beadle’s duties are more ceremonial. He plays a leading part in the admission and clothing of new Liverymen, conducts major events such as the Company’s Court Luncheons and Dinners, acts as our Toastmaster and advises the Master and the Clerk on matters of protocol. Our Beadle is Mr Peter Thompson.
How we work
The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers is governed by The Master and Wardens, assisted by the Court of Assistants.
The Master and Wardens are elected every year at the Court’s meeting in June, but do not assume office until “the first Wednesday after the Feast of St Michael the Archangel next” (usually the first Wednesday in October) when they make their Declarations in public during the Annual Service of Remembrance, Thanksgiving and Re-dedication held in St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street.
The Court of Assistants is made up of the Deputy Master (ie the Immediate Past Master), Past Master Assistants, Senior Assistants and Assistants. The maximum number of Assistants (of any type) is 14. The Court of Assistants meets four times each year in October, December, March and June. It receives reports from specialist committees, as well as from the Master and Wardens and the Clerk. The Committees undertake much of the detailed work that sustains the Company.
There are currently 5 specialist committees and 3 working groups:
- The Membership Committee – focused on the recruitment and retention of members and increasing awareness of the Company’s work
- The REM (Research, Education, public engagement and Medals) Group is made up of professors of vision science, ophthalmology, optometry and orthoptics from academic departments across the UK. The REM Group determines and criteria and application process for the Company’s bronze and silver medals for research and innovation, recommends the award of gold medals for exceptional and outstanding contributions to our understanding of vision and shares understanding on matters relating to vision science and technology. Each year the Group invites a speaker of international renown to deliver the annual Spectacle Makers' Lecture, bringing the latest developments in vision science to a wider public audience.
- The Finance Committee – advises the Master and Wardens on the implications of decisions on Company finances and assists the Master and Wardens in monitoring cashflow and performance against budget.
- The Investment Committee – brings together representatives from the Company and The Spectacle Makers' Charity to discuss the performance of the appointed professional investment managers and monitor changes in investment markets affecting the Company's and the Charity's investments. The external investment managers have full discretion to manage each of the portfolios to deliver the returns expected by the Company and the Charity in line with their individual investment policies.
- SMC 400 is the Committee already looking ahead to our 400th Anniversary in 2029. They will be planning a series of events to mark the anniversary and engage members and the general public in the past, present and future of the Company's role in eye health
- The Communications, Social Media and Corporate Supporter Working Groups work closely with the Clerk and her Assistant to manage external messaging and our relationships with corporate supporters, other stakeholders and the public.
- The Master and Wardens are also assisted by the WCSM Think Tank, a select group of Liverymen and Freemen who hold senior roles in eye health and sight loss. They consider how the Company can best raise issues about eye health outside the Company and contribute to national discussions.
The Spectacle Makers’ Society (social group) is run by a volunteer Committee of Freemen and Liverymen. Its role is to provide friendship and fun for Freemen and Liverymen outside the scope of formal Company events. It maintains a strong connection with the Membership Committee and any surpluses arising from its social programme go to support The Spectacle Makers’ Charity (registered in England and Wales, no. 1186122). It is not directly governed by the Court of the Company and is self-funding.
All correspondence relating to the Company, the Court and its Committees and invitations to the Master or senior Company representatives should be addressed to the Clerk, Mrs Helen Perkins. See the Contact Us page for details.