Retirement marked of ABDO College founding principal

Jo Underwood helped build ABDO College to become a centre of excellence

An event was held at ABDO College on 11 September to mark the retirement of the College’s founding principal, Jo Underwood, who has stepped down after 21 years.

Clive Marchant, chair of the ABDO College board of trustees, said: “Twenty-one years ago, Jo joined ABDO College as principal and the College’s first employee, with zero students. Twenty-one years later, we approach four figure numbers of students studying at ABDO College every year – from optical assistant, FBDO diploma and degree courses along with contact lenses and low vision honours courses – all achieving consistent, outstanding results.

“Jo and her team have achieved so much in the past 21 years. Jo should be very proud of all she has achieved.”

Tony Garrett, ABDO general secretary, commented: “It would be impossible to adequately say thank you to Jo Underwood for all that she has done and achieved since becoming the founding principal of ABDO College. Her leadership, dedication and enthusiasm are legendary and she has created a first-class team at Godmersham, which is rightly seen as a world class and innovative centre of excellence.

“The whole Association and the ABDO College trustees hold Jo in the highest possible regard, and everyone wishes her all the very best for the future. She leaves her role with the love and great affection of her friends and colleagues.”

Jo Underwood said: “I am so grateful for being given the fantastic opportunity to bring ABDO College into existence in 2000, and become what it is today. It has been a real privilege.

“Not many people, particularly in education, get to start with a clean slate, with no-one to live up to, no set processes to have to follow, no staff team already in place. It certainly produces headaches at times, but the journey has been one that I have loved.

“I thank all ABDO College staff, both past and present, for their huge commitment to this dream and for making it what it is today – and the College trustees for their confidence in the team. It has been a magnificent and joyous journey that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

“My thanks go out to everyone who attended my retirement party and all those who sent me messages on my retirement.”

A fond farewell from friends and colleagues, past and present