Obituary: Professor Gail Stephenson

Gail Stephenson

Associate Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor (student experience), Eileen Thornton, at the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, pays tribute:  

“Professor Gail Stephenson was at the forefront of all aspects of developing her profession, nationally and internationally. She established the Department of Orthoptics in 1992, being one of only two university departments in England that offers an Orthoptics degree. She was Head until 2014 when she stepped down to spend more time on developing the postgraduate education for the continuing professional development of qualified orthoptics. 

Gail was a senior member of the Orthoptic profession, being selected for many national leadership roles including the Chair of the group which produced the first standards of proficiency for orthoptists in 2003. 

In 2011 she was awarded a Fellowship of the British and Irish Orthoptic Society for outstanding service to the Orthoptic profession. She was elected President of the European Orthoptic Association and Vice President of the International Orthoptic Association (the global orthoptic association) in 2013. 

International work

Gail was consulted as an expert by many overseas governments with respect to the delivery of eye care in various European countries. She was recognised nationally and internationally for her expertise in binocular vision and received numerous invitations to present guest lectures and master classes all over the world. 

Since 1996, Gail was involved in research into the effects of visual function on sport performance at the request of the then Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. Her research has influenced and changed certain aspects of the coaching activities both for individual players and for the team as a whole. This work has also become part of the ‘talent ID’ process for young academy players. She also used her expertise in this field to advise other sports such as motor sport, tennis, rugby and netball. 

First and foremost Gail loved her students and her teaching was rated highly by them. She was never seen without an array of electronic devices about her and was way ahead of the rest of us with her creativity in applying cutting-edge technology to her approaches to delivery. 

Valued colleague

As a colleague she was fun to work with and a loyal member to have in your team. She made significant contributions to the University in many areas throughout her working life and was awarded a personal chair in 2013. This was well deserved and one of her proudest achievements. 

Gail was held in high regard by her colleagues for her ability to liaise with a great many other professions both locally and worldwide. The impact of her work has influenced teaching of undergraduates, clinical practice and given an indication of the importance of high grade binocular vision in high performing sports professionals. 

She will always be thought of as someone with great vitality and energy. The contribution Gail made to the life and work of her students, colleagues and friends will be remembered and valued by them for many years to come.” 

10 thoughts on “Obituary: Professor Gail Stephenson

  1. champion

    The world of Orthoptics has lost a legend! Gail touched many students’ lives…and I was one of them. She allowed me to be human in her presence but whenever I left, I took with me pearls that made me a better Orthoptist. May those of us whose lives she has touched find the courage to accept her loss and the motivation to celebrate the life she shared with us. Femi

  2. anitamac

    Gail was an active volunteer member of her professional body (BIOS) and fought tirelessly to protect the “orthoptist” title, for which all orthoptists, present and future, should be very glad. She will be missed for her significant contributions she undoubtedly still had to make to the development and status of the profession and very lively debate she bought to all meetings! We will all miss her greatly.
    Anita McCallum, Representing the British & Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS)

  3. Kenton Morgan

    Gail, the impact of your work on the performance of (a) football and rugby teams may never get the recognition it deserves within an academic framework. It was and will remain massive. You made a difference!

  4. johnmc

    Gail was a great friend and colleague done so much to promote orthoptics both nationally and internationally but i will remember her best as a great friend who really enjoyed the craic as all her friends in Ireland will agree.

    John Mc Cance (Former Chair Irish Branch )

  5. SianM

    Incredibly sad news. I was lucky enough to train whilst Gail was at Liverpool and she will be sadly missed. Her passion for orthoptics was evident in everything she did and i can only hope that this lives on through the students she taught and her colleagues. x

  6. markdearing

    Awful news, she has given the profession so much. There are hundreds of dedicated Orthoptists across the country, educated and inspired by the infectious enthusiasm and passion Gail held for our shared vocation. RIP, you will be greatly missed.

  7. mlohan

    I am very fortunate and blessed to have been a student of Gail’s. Her passion and enthusiasm for Orthoptics was infectious and inspiring and she was beloved by everyone she taught. Those of us who knew her will never forget her and will always appreciate everything she did for us. Rest in peace Gail, you will be dearly missed.

  8. Julieeyes

    RIP Gail – you were always a strong advocate for the profession, and without your perseverance and drive, we would not be in such a strong posiition. I remember you for your strong opinions, and straight talking – whether we agreed or not, it was always a good debate.
    Julie Cartledge

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