General News

Tony Chivers MBE

For some years now I have spent five days at the end of May in Alton, Hampshire, as it is a more convenient launchpad from which to attend the PGA Golf Championship at Wentworth than making a very early morning start from North Somerset. When I became Membership Secretary of the BDAA I noted that one of our members, Tony Chivers, lived just outside Alton and it was always in the back of my mind that I should look him up whilst there. Somehow, however, I never did. It was only this year when an e-mail was being drafted to encourage the 2015 graduates to join the BDAA that I came across the fact that there were one or two members with graduation dates in the 1950’s and this prompted me to find out who they were. It so happened that Tony Chivers was one of them, having graduated in 1951, so this year I decided to give him a visit.

Medstead is a village on the outskirts of Alton and, as I later found out, Tony was a very active and prominent member of the local community there. I found the house, rang the doorbell and was greeted by someone who looked a little on the young side of what I would have expected for a 1951 graduate. Having announced the purpose of my visit, the response was “I’m sorry, but you’re just too late, Tony died a few days ago”. As I then found out, Tony was in his 95th year at the time of his death (!) and the three people in the house were there to arrange the details of his funeral. They kindly invited me in for a chat and it was during this that I became aware that I had just missed meeting a remarkable and interesting man. The following is a brief account of his life and achievements.

Tony was born in Somerset in 1920, where he received his early education at a small private school.   He went from there to a school in Gloucestershire where he developed an interest in running. His potential in this area was quickly spotted and it wasn’t long before he was competing at the English Schools Athletics Championships where, at the age of 16, he came third in the mile race. He was equally competent academically and gained entry to Bristol University to study Dentistry in 1939. Whilst in his first year, Tony joined the Territorial Army and was almost immediately called up to join the war effort.   The first combat that he experienced, however, was as a boxer and he soon became the brigade champion.

The war years obviously put his main sporting activity on hold and Sergeant Chivers was assigned to an anti-aircraft battery in Bristol during the blitz. From there he joined the Army Flying Corps and, after seven hours of training, he was considered good enough to fly solo. In time he added a skill as a reconnaissance photographer and used this to obtain such good pictures of the bridge at Arnhem that these were used to aid the Canadian Army advance on it. This gained him a commendation from his brigade.

Tony returned to civilian life at the end of the war having attained the rank of Captain. It was time to resume his studies at Bristol and his running activities. While still a student, he represented England in the Five Nations Cross Country Championship, finishing third. He then went on to win the British Six Mile Championship in 1948 and just missed out on representing his country at the London Olympics through injury. There then followed a period of selection for the national team. He ran the 5000m for the British Empire team against the USA, coming fifth, and won at the same distance for Great Britain against France in Paris. In 1950 Tony was selected to run in the Empire Games in New Zealand, winning the bronze medal in the three-mile race and coming sixth in the mile. Through all of this, he still maintained his studies and, as many did in those days, preceded his BDS with an LDS, being awarded the Dental Gold Medal in the former.

After qualification he spent a year in practice in Bath before setting up on his own in Chandlers Ford in Hampshire. While in the process of building up his new practice, Tony also worked part-time in the Community Dental Service and he maintained a link with this until, in 1975, he had to make the choice of whether or not he put all his energies into expanding the general practice or look for a more permanent position in his part-time role. This came with his appointment of Senior Dental Officer in Hampshire, in which he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of treating patients with disabilities.

From very early on in his career Tony had taken an active role in the local BDA. He was Secretary and then Chairman of the Southampton Branch and this led to him becoming Treasurer and then President of the Wessex Branch Council. He served as President for ten years and, in 1982 was made a Fellow of the BDA. During his time with the BDA, Tony became aware that the Benevolent Fund had no provision to help those who volunteered for service within the Fund’s activities but who subsequently had financial difficulties through their own ill health. He set up a trust fund to help these individuals and managed to attract monies from various sources including the Ministry of Health. Thus it was that he was responsible for setting up the Dental Health Support Trust in 1991. This was entirely separate from the BDA Benevolent Fund and Tony became its founding Chairman. He was awarded an MBE for his services to Dentistry in 1996 and subsequently, on retirement from the Trust, was made a Life Trustee.

Tony’s sporting activities continued throughout his working life and into retirement. He was a founding member of the Medstead Tennis Club and was made a life member of this, having the club pavilion named in his honour after he raised funds to have it rebuilt following an unfortunate fire. Running however was at the beginning and end of his remarkable life.   In 2012, at the age of 92, Tony became one of the oldest torchbearers to run a stage for the Olympic games and he regularly walked his dog for about two miles each day right up to the time of his death.

Ken Marshall

General News

Sister Davison’s Centenary Celebrations

The sun shone and the venue was the Hilton Bristol Hotel where exactly one hundred people gathered for a very special occasion. The guests had come from far and wide to celebrate the 100th birthday of a very special lady; namely, Sybil Moores BEM. Many of those reading this may not instantly recognize the name, but when you realize that we are talking about Sister Davison, later to be Matron of the Dental Hospital, most dental staff and graduates from the 1970s and before should now have a very clear picture of the lady in question.

Sybil’s birthday was on the 26th of August 2015 and the immediate event was celebrated with her family in Bristol where she still lives independently in her flat in Clifton. Such, however, is the respect and affection shown to her, particularly by her ‘girls’, that throughout her years of retirement a small but dedicated group of them have ensured that all of the significant milestones in her life so far have been appropriately celebrated. Following this tradition, the same small group under the leadership of Vicki Townsend could not let such a significant birthday pass without an equally significant party to celebrate it and this was duly done on Sunday, September 6th.

Along with a small group of Sybil’s family and non-dental friends the guest list of one hundred was made up mainly of the nurses who had trained at Bristol Dental Hospital during her reign from 1952 to 1976. Many of these had married and were accompanied by former Bristol dental students who had also experienced her eagle-eyed supervision. The remainder comprised retired dental and medical consultants and staff who had worked with her. A sign of the respect and affection shown for Sybil was the distance travelled by some of the guests to attend the event, not only from the far reaches of the UK, including Scotland and Guernsey, but one who had come all the way from Canada.

Lunch was preceded by a short reception and the excited hubbub that accompanies the renewing of old acquaintanceships; the noise level only dropping when everyone sat to enjoy the excellent food. Towards the end of the meal Sybil was invited to cut a giant birthday cake embellished by three large candles showing the number 100. Lunch was then concluded with a few words from Ken Marshall to celebrate the occasion and pay tribute to a “one in a million” lady. Matron was then presented with flowers and a specially engraved crystal vase.

There then followed what was probably one of the highlights of the occasion. Vicki asked anyone who had any special anecdotes concerning their experiences as trainee nurses or students during Sister/Matron’s time at the Dental Hospital to share them. The microphone was then passed around and what emerged was a highly amusing and revealing half hour or so.

Sybil was then able to meet up with many of those present, who also had the opportunity to renew old friendships and exchange memories of sometimes best-forgotten exploits. The final tribute to the success of the event was the general realisation that, having gone into lunch at 1.15 pm, the next time most people looked at their watches it was almost five o’clock.

We look forward to the 105th!

Ken Marshall & Vicki Townsend

The guests included, in no particular order:

Reg Andlaw, Ken Marshall, Peter Easton, Reg Bleakman, David Baker, Geoffrey Burton, Trevor and Yvonne Thomas, Chris Stephenson, Maureen Erskine (Mahood), Clive Jenkins, Catherine Gunnery, Hugh Willis and Rod Young.

Here is a picture of how some, of a certain age, may remember Sister. Click on the image for the full-size version.


More photographs of the event may be viewed by clicking here.




Dental Changes at the University of Bristol

On 3rd August, the new Faculty of Health Sciences is replacing the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Dean of the new faculty is no other than our very own Professor Jonathan Sandy.

I’m sure for many, Jonathan will need no introduction but for those not to have met him, he was appointed to Bristol University as a Consultant Senior Lecturer in 1991, promoted to a Reader in 1997 and awarded a Personal Chair in Orthodontics in1999. He was head of School for seven years and has been interim dean of the current Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry for some time.

Sadly, his current role has taken him out of the Dental School to Senate House so his hopes of returning to the clinics have suffered a setback, but I’m sure we would all like to send him our best wishes and congratulations on his new appointment.


Calling all 1970/1971 graduates

Alan Fornear is trying to organise a reunion but need email addresses. Please use the contact forms in the reunion section to get in touch!


In memoriam: Robin Davies

Robin Davies, who was Senior Lecturer in Periodontics at Bristol in the late 80’s, died in April 2015 in Manchester aged 74.  He was an able clinician and an enthusiastic teacher and was very popular with both staff and students alike.

Robin trained at Manchester University and played rugby for Manchester University and Broughton Park – he had a trial for Wales.  He passed with distinction in dentistry and knew early on that he wished to pursue an interest in periodontics.  He engaged in further studies in bacteriology and was involved in the early development of chlorhexidine as a mouthwash. Robin was on the lecturing staff at Manchester in his early days and went to Denmark for a year to work with Harald Loe. He then joined ICI and was heavily involved in the development of Corsodyl.  Following this he joined Bristol University and spent some time in Saudi Arabia as a clinician before returning to the UK as research lead for Colgate until he retired.

In retirement Robin was unlucky to suffer from Alzheimer’s. His wife Gill and members of his family supported him through this – he had 10 grandchildren!  He was a very approachable colleague and teacher with a sharp sense of humour.

The funeral was held on Monday 20th April 2015 in Manchester. Iain Hathorn represented the School.


Bishops Knoll by Chris Stephens

Chris Stephens has written yet another fascinating article, especially relevant in this the 60th anniversary of the Great War, concerning a local hospital set up to treat injured Australian soldiers.

You can read all about it here


A new dental challenge…The Gambia

1968 Graduate Des Pyper did not realise just where a holiday to The Gambia would lead.

To read his fascinating article click here


Bristol BUOLD21C Diploma News

A reception for University of Bristol students who had finished their Diploma in Dental Postgraduate Studies in 2012-13 and 2013-14 was held last month [Saturday 21 February] at the University’s Victoria Rooms. Twenty-six students completed their Diplomas in the academic year 2012-13 and 25 students finished their Diplomas in the academic year 2013-14. These successful candidates joined the fast approaching nine hundred dentists who hold the Diploma.

Dr Nigel Robb, Programme Director and Mr Alasdair Miller, previous Programme Director, welcomed everyone and celebrated the continued success of the programme. The quality of the students was evident when citations, which covered professional activities and outside interests, were read out about the successful candidates who were able to attend the event.

The diplomates were congratulated on their achievements by Professor Jonathan Sandy, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (formerly Head of the School of Oral and Dental Sciences). This was followed by a prize giving ceremony to recognise the success and outstanding achievements of students on individual units within the Bristol University Open Learning for Dentists (BUOLD) programme.

The Schottlander Prize, presented by Sarah Bain, Interim Head of the School of Oral and Dental Sciences, was won by Laurie Powell. The prize is awarded to the best student on the Prosthetics Unit of the course.

The Laurence Oldham prize, which is awarded for the best performance in the Oral Surgery Unit, was presented by Mr Oldham himself to Pamela Ray [2012-13 year] and Nick Gibbs [2013-14 year]. Mr Oldham has been a great supporter of the BUOLD Programme and he has been involved in the development and delivery of the original Oral Surgery unit for nearly 24 years. During the academic year 2013-14 he also stood in for the Unit Lead of the new Surgical Skills 1 course.

The prize for best student in Business Management Skills was awarded to Paula Souto [2013 year] and Mark Dermont [2014 year]. The award was presented by Matthew Pyke, CEO of Lloyd & White, who sponsor the prize.

The Marsh Midda Prize is awarded in memory of the late Marsh Midda, who was Professor of Periodontology at the University of Bristol and a larger than life character who is remembered by all who met him. His widow, Mrs Brenda Midda, attended the reception and presented the prize to Ruth Walker.

Professor Sandy, after thanking the families of students past and present for their support, congratulated all of the successful diplomats and expressed his hope that they would stay in touch with the University.

Professor Sandy also thanked Dana Nedoszytko, the BUOLD Programme Administrator and Amy Gould, the Orthodontic Postgraduate Programme Administrator for organising the day.

The group were photographed on the steps of the Victoria Rooms in the February sunshine and the event finished with refreshments in the Recital Room.





Please click on this image for the full-sized version.



Front Row from Left
Alasdair Miller (BDA President and former BUOLD Programme Director), Matthew Pyke (CEO of Lloyd & Whyte and Prize Sponsor), Laurie Oldham (Oldham Prize Sponsor), Brenda Midda (Marsh Midda Prize Sponsor), Jonathan Sandy (Dean of Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry), Sarah Bain (Head of School of Oral and Dental Sciences), Diana Gould (Special Care Unit Lead), Nigel Robb (BUOLD Programme Director).

Back Rows from Left
Sania Jamshed, Paula Souto, Laurie Powell, Hana Hovorkova, Ruth Walker, Pamela Ray, Claire Harrhy, Yvonne Rooney, Jyothsna Mekala, Katy Tse,  Kamil Ahmed , Anthony Sweeney, Nick Gibbs, Mark Dermont, Ann Ovall, Alex Woodward-Court, Aine McIver, Catherine Bailey, Elaine Forbes, Bashar Helail.


Further information on the BUOLD programme is available from the online prospectus or from the BUOLD Administrator (

Next Academic year the following courses will be offered: –

Anxiety Management
Business Management Skills 1 & 2
Conscious Sedation
Full Denture Prosthetics
Law and Ethics
Local Anaesthesia
Surgical Skills 1 & 2

Details on the application process are available from


General News

From the Chairman

A significant event this year will be the 100th birthday of Sister Davison (or Sybil as she is now happy to be called). Details of a special lunch organised by one of her ‘girls’, Vicky Townsend, are given in this newsletter. Sybil is keeping well, living alone and coping well in her Clifton apartment. She attended a reunion of the 66Society (graduates of 1966 and thereabouts) in February this year, where Bob Binnersley paid glowing tribute and she was presented with an impressive bouquet. She looks forward to receiving very special congratulations from the Queen on 24th August.

It’s always been extremely gratifying to see how many year-group reunions are held each year. Last year was no exception: eight reunions involving the classes of 1964, 1966, 1968/69, 1969/70, 1974, 1989, 1999 and 2004 (reports of some of these reunions can be found on our website). Can there be any other department of this or any other university that can boast of alumni who so enthusiastically maintain contact with their old colleagues and school?

Membership of our BDAA continues to grow as we recruit many of each year’s graduating students. We now number in excess of 1000 members. Finances are in a healthy state and we will continue to use the income from your subscriptions wisely to support worthy causes in the School as well as student activities and events.




General News

From the Secretary

I hope you are all enjoying the new website. Its success depends wholly upon the content and I should like to remind you to please send in anything, including photographs of anything you may think of interest to our members. If you think someone is not receiving this email that should be then it is probably because they are either not a member or else we do not have their current email

address. If they are not currently a member then please encourage them to join…it’s only £10 annually and tax allowable! If you have updated your email address recently then please let us know. Both membership and contact forms can be found on the website

Gary Mendham