A golden celebration

19 September, 2013 / infocus

Our reunion came about as a result of the research and considerable detective work of super sleuths Norman Roback and Richard Day, who planned a three-day event held in June with meticulous attention to detail.

They found us – in whichever continent we were hiding – and dispatched regular email briefings with detailed plots and timings with military-like precision… and even booked us into a local hotel via the university’s conference and visitor services.

Our undergraduate year group included students from all parts of Scotland, as well as England and Norway. Special ties existed then between the universities of Scotland and Norway and these links are as strong now as they were in our student days – as evidenced by the return of former colleagues from England, Norway, Canada, America and home to be part of the reunion.

Day one – evening

Thus, fully briefed, 20 of us including partners assembled for our first meeting on the evening of 10 June for an informal cocktail night in the Grosvenor Hilton Hotel which, cunningly, afforded us the opportunity to seek each other out with the aid of name tags as most of us had not clapped eyes on each other since graduation day June 1963.

Day two – morning

Fifteen former and two active dentists were graciously welcomed by Professor Jeremy Bagg, professor of oral microbiology and head of Glasgow Dental Hospital and School, in the recently renovated laboratory in the dental hospital.

After his introduction, Prof Bagg left us in the very capable hands of Dr Carlos Miguel, senior university teacher in oral biology. Dr Miguel told us about the advances made in the teaching of histology, incorporating the students’ use of individual iPads which also permitted a dialogue between student and teacher, with an inbuilt facility to study histology even outwith the lab, as well as the added ability for the teaching staff to assess students’ progress.

We were then invited to examine, on individual microscopes, a slide of a foetal head which could be simultaneously shown on the teaching monitor (of course we immediately recognised it!). We were conscious of very competent background staff who could not resist photographing this motley crew of celebrity former dentists as we sat in wonder as to what was coming next.

We did not have long to wait as Dr Miguel then introduced us to the field of 3D imaging, which is a revolutionary ongoing research project in the dental hospital and includes, among others, Dr Aileen Bell from the Digital Design Studio of the neighbouring Glasgow School of Art and the anatomy deptartment of Glasgow University.

Wearing our 3D glasses, we were then treated to an Oscar-worthy performance of the human skull exploding before our very eyes into its 22 component bones and the free-floating graceful movements of the complete dentition in perfect morphology as they performed a dental ballet showing all their graceful facets! Wow!

It became crystal clear to us that the role of the ancillary personnel/technicians in this teaching hospital was paramount and that their skills were of the highest quality. We concluded that, with their iPads and visual aid techniques, the students’ ability to learn the disciplines of anatomy and histology must be greatly enhanced.

As if that was not good enough, we were then taken to the old hospital quarters once patrolled by professor Gibson, known affectionately as ‘The Gib’, and offered another ‘dem’. The dem consisted of the completion of a class I filling in a plastic molar within the jaws of the firm favourite – the phantom head of Garnethill! Composite filling material was most professionally incrementally placed in the waiting molar and shown to us by yet another indulgence to today’s students – the closed circuit camera link.

We were grateful to Dr Andrew Crothers for this last demonstration but, unfortunately, we only had time left for a few words from our sponsors, Ivoclar Vivadent, who had sponsored the materials and the finger buffet which followed in the modern canteen (no sign of Sadie!). Thanks to all staff in the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School for an absorbing and thoughtful morning.

Day two – evening

The evening roll call revealed that 29 colleagues, including partners, had assembled in the premises of the famous Glasgow Art Club in Bath Street. Following a cocktail/canapé reception, we were treated to an evening of very fine dining – thanks again to the organisational and enterprising skills of Maestro Richard, who ordained that speeches would be limited to one or two sentences.

Despite this edict, one male member present was so moved by the occasion that he felt compelled to lead us in two emotional choruses of: “We’re all together again, we’re here we’re here!” By the end of the night, the consensus was that complete bonding had occurred and that the evening was reminiscent of evenings years ago in similar company.

Final day – morning

The activities of this day had been arranged in the main through the splendid people of the University Development and Alumnus Department, who had given so much help and guidance to our organisers.

Being aware of our 50th anniversary, they had invited us all to attend the Commemoration Day Honorary Graduations. This event started in early morning with a service in the University Chapel for the Commemoration of Benefactors of the University, followed by the honorary graduations in Bute Hall and finished with lunch in the Hunter Hall.

The combination of the University Chapel Service with splendid choral singing, the grandeur of the Bute Hall, the mini reception in the Cloisters, and lastly the luncheon in the Hunter Hall with a special mention of our golden anniversary by the principal in his speech brought to an end our three-day event.

Our master planners Richard and Norman excelled themselves. They have left us with abundant good memories topped off by the production of an updated yearbook full of memorabilia. This was edited and produced by Norman’s daughter, Ylana, and circulated to us all with Norman’s compliments.

Our special thanks and hopefully continuing the ties we offer to Glasgow University and Glasgow Dental Hospital and School, who welcomed us in 1958 and welcomed us again in 2013!


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