Born in 1951, Robert Hughes is the Chief Executive of the Association of Optometrists. After leaving school to study Scientific and Technical Photography, he began his career as an apprentice with the British Aircraft Corporation where he was soon producing and directing publicity films. He later worked in film and television, including a 14-year spell as News Editor with BBC Television News. He became involved in politics early on in his career and in 1980 was elected to the Greater London Council where he served until 1986. In 1987 he was elected Member of Parliament for Harrow West, a seat he kept for 10 years. During his time in government he served as a Whip and as Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office with responsibility for the Science Research Councils and the Medical Research Council. He later became General Secretary and then Executive Director of the optical trade body, the Federation of Ophthalmic & Dispensing Opticians.
In 1998 Robert Hughes was made Honorary Doctor of Science.
"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctorate of Science to Robert Hughes, General Secretary of the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO).
This award is made in recognition of his considerable efforts in the sponsorship of APU's new Optometry degree, his establishment of a charitable educational trust, specific to this university, to enable the realisation of this degree, together with his association with the University over the last few years.
Through the vision and commitment of Robert Hughes a consortium was formed of optical employers and his liaison through the School of Applied Sciences resulted in a grant of half a million pounds to develop the new degree programme in optometry at APU. FODO plays a key role in optics education in the UK and the University continues to collaborate with this body to establish further programmes in optics, including a programme of lifelong learning for practitioners.
He has a reputation for stirring up the optics professions and is committed to the highest standards of clinical competence among practitioners. In partnership with APU, he strongly supports the move to widening access and the establishment of true career progression in optics.
The depth and breadth of Robert Hughes' involvement in science began a very long time ago when he first studied Scientific and Technical Photography, then served as an apprentice with the British Aircraft Corporation, later producing and directing publicity films for their whole range of products, including satellites.
The scientific dimension to him was manifest, also, when he was a Member of Parliament for Harrow West for 10 years. During this time as Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office he was responsible for the Science Research Councils and the Medical Research Council.
In Europe Robert Hughes represented the UK on the Research Council of Ministers of the European Union and negotiated with his French and German counterparts on the international deal that made the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN a reality.
His film making experience was a valued asset in his post as Secretary of the All-Party Film Industry Group where he took a close interest in the film and television industries, particularly relevant during the passage of the 1990 and 1996 Broadcasting Acts when he was instrumental in improving access to television for the profoundly deaf.
He was also the Minister with overall responsibility for the Citizens' Charters, and had a particular remit from the Prime Minister in connection with the Patients' Charter.
Robert Hughes has shown himself to be a caring man, involved in a number of charitable organisations relating to the young and the disadvantaged in society. It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice Chancellor, to confer on our noble friend, Robert Hughes, the award of Honorary Doctor of Science of this University."