In my first address as the new President of the Society of Shoe Fitters I must give
thanks to a number of people. Firstly to Ellie Dickins, our immediate Past President for providing such excellent leadership in her two years in office. Ellie has been an extremely ‘hands on’ President representing the organisation at many exhibitions and Podiatry Conferences as well as giving talks to various groups, she rose to the challenge magnificently. I am informed that Ellie is a passionate supporter of the S.S.F. having been a part of the voluntary Council for many years, therefore our membership benefits greatly from her commitment.
Secondly to those present at the AGM who supported me being the new President for the next two years. Finally to Laura West our permanent Secretary. Without Laura’s excellent work, dedication and underpinning knowledge the Society would be a much poorer
I thought that I would take a moment to introduce myself and tell you something about my own background and interest in shoe fitting, which is slightly different than that of most other Members of the Society. I qualified as a podiatrist in 1980 and amongst various other academic activities I gained a PhD for footwear related research in 2000 and qualified
as a shoe fitter through the Society in 2009. My current working life is highly varied and includes managing the NHS podiatry service in Sheffield, being research lead for Primary and Community Services in Sheffield and undertaking my own research within the same organisation.
I am seconded to the University of Huddersfield as a Professor and I am a Visiting Professor at Staffordshire University. I also work as a forensic practitioner and spend a considerable amount of time during the working week on forensic identification work. Despite the diversity of these various roles, knowledge of footwear is essential to much of the work I am involved in. My interest in shoe fitting is therefore primarily from a health perspective which is different to the majority of Members of the Society who have a background in retail. On my part I
don’t see a conflict between either position with the responsibility of any shoe fitter being to help the client to obtain what they want without causing any un-necessary harm to their feet, body or well-being.
During my time in office I would like to see the Society continue to support the needs of our traditional membership – the footwear retailers, while at the same time reaching out to more practising health professionals, to promote the benefits of their involvement with the Society through education, testing, membership and inter-organisational collaboration. I would particularly like to see more cross fertilisation of knowledge – for example through Society presence and presentation at podiatry conferences and perhaps even considering hosting similar conference events ourselves.
However I strongly believe that any moves in this direction should not be at the expense of our traditional membership. Although not of this background myself I have seen and heard enough during my time with the Society to understand very well that for retailers it’s tough out there with competition growing from those retail sources for whom foot health
and excellent shoe fitting are not seen as priorities. In response to this I would like the Society to use every opportunity including the developing relationships with health professional organisations such as the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, to promote the need for excellent fitting and to highlight the potentially drastic consequences of neglecting this essential phase of uniting a wearer with a new pair of shoes.
I am very much looking forward to working with you all during my time as President. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at any time through the Offices of the Society if you have any ideas, suggestions or concerns that you would liketo raise while I am in office. Thank you your support and I am looking forward to meeting with as many of you as
possible over the next two years.
Wesley Vernon O.B.E. PhD.