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Vale Neil Forbes: 1942 - 2019

22/01/2019By Lewis Williams PhD
Neil Forbes, founder and former publisher of Insight, passed away last week. Known for his determined approach to journalism, he steered the publication for more than 40 years.

Neil was born in 1942 in Five Dock, Sydney. His affiliation with the ophthalmic profession began in 1960 when he commenced an optometry course at the Sydney Technical College in Ultimo. However, his preference for playing the trumpet in a small jazz band and his deep involvement in the Sydney surf club scene impeded his academic progress, and he soon abandoned that ambition.

Surfing remained a lifelong interest for Neil. To those who knew him well, the combination of Neil, surf, and the inevitable sun exposure was incongruous given his very fair skin.

Neil joined Australia’s famed spectacle frame manufacturer Martin Wells at a time when the company was a rising star. By the late 1960s, he had risen to the position of sales and marketing manager.

In late 1970, Maroubra optometrist Mr Ralph Lewis launched an ophthalmic optics newspaper called Optical World, a publication he maintained for almost five years. In 1975 Neil took over the publication, revamped it, and renamed it Insight.

Confirmation of his contribution to optics came in the form of a RANZCO Certificate of Appreciation presented to him at the 2015 RANZCO Annual Scientific Congress held in Wellington, New Zealand.

In 2016, and at the age of 73, he decided to retire and sold Insight to Gunnamatta Media while continuing to write for it during a transition period.

Having maintained a busy pace in the media world for four decades, Neil found ‘retirement’ difficult, so established Today’s Ophthalmic News, a news website.

Unfortunately, his general health worked against the success of his latest venture. Following many visits to hospital over recent times for several related issues, he died on Wednesday, 16 January 2019. He is survived by his wife and business partner Sandra, their two sons Anthony and James, and a brother, Wal.

Since his passing, many have commented that he made a significant and positive contribution to the Australian ophthalmic profession over the years. May he rest in peace.

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