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In memoriam: Reg Andlaw

It is much sadness I have to report the death of Reg Andlaw who passed away on Saturday 27th March 2021

Reg was born in Gibraltar in 1933 and was a 4th generation Gibraltarian. During World War II he was evacuated; first to Casablanca, then to Madeira and later the family moved to Tangier. From there he was sent to Oundle Boarding School to complete his secondary education and then enrolled as a dental student at Guy’s Dental Hospital where he qualified with a BDS in 1957. He then worked for a year as a children’s dentistry intern at the Eastman Dental Center in Rochester NY and was about to return to the UK when Basil Bibby (Director at the Eastman) offered him the opportunity to enrol in a 2-year Postgraduate Course in Paedodontics at the University of Rochester, which resulted in his attainment of an M.Sc. in Paedodontics in 1960.  Whilst in the USA he played a lot of tennis and squash, even represented the City of Rochester in the National Squash Championships in 1959. Before leaving the United States, however, he set out on an 8000-mile round-USA camping trip with two friends, returning home to Gibraltar just in time for Christmas, and then came back to the UK in January 1961 to join a dental practice in Clifton, Bristol.

Reg married Christina in 1963 and had considered returning to Rochester, but the birth of the first of two daughters in the following year put this on hold. By chance, he then met an old dental friend who was, at the time, working in Arthur Darling’s newly-established MRC Dental Research Unit at the Bristol Dental School, who encouraged him to apply for a position in the Unit. This chance meeting changed the course of his life and ended any further thoughts of returning to America. Professor Darling was impressed that Reg had worked under Bibby in Rochester and offered him a place, which led to a PhD in 1965 and a Lectureship in Dental Surgery 

At that time in Bristol, as was the custom in a number of UK Dental Schools, Children’s Dentistry was seen as part of  Adult Conservative Dentistry. Thus Reg was now working under Professor Bradford where he was  soon joined by Martin Curzon (later Professor Curzon of Leeds University Dental School) who had returned from his specialty training, also undertaken at the Eastman Dental Center in Rochester.  The two then established close links with their local colleagues in what was then the Schools’ Dental Service and set up the first effective undergraduate course in Paediatric Dentistry at Bristol. 

In 1971, when the British Paedodontic Society established its Journal, Reg became its first editor continuing in this role when it merged with the International of Journal of Paediatric Dentistry in1991, a job he enjoyed until 1997.

 In 1982 Reg and his colleague Peter Rock of Birmingham University Dental School had published their hugely influential  “Manual of Paedodontics” which, with its successor  “A Manual of Paediatric Dentistry”, would run for 5 editions as the standard UK undergraduate text on the subject. In the same year the new Department of Child Dental Health was created at Bristol, merging Paediatric Dentistry with the Department of Orthodontics. and Reg became the Clinical Dental Dean, a role for which he was ideally suited and in which he excelled. Reg retired from the Dental School in 1988, but continued as an unpaid “Special Lecturer” for many months afterwards.

Prior to his retirement, and while he was Clinical Dean, a group of senior dental students formed an ad hoc group to keep the Dental School in touch with its alumni and this led to   him being asked, in 1989, to become the first Chairman of the Bristol Dental Alumni Association. Reg soon decided the BDAA needed a Newsletter and he was elected as its editor. During the 24 years of his editorship, and until it was replaced by the current electronic version, this publication increased from 14 to 37 pages and was printed in full colour for its final edition. (see  Reg was the Association Chairman until 2019, regularly attending the majority of graduates’ reunions taking place each autumn.

In his retirement Reg continued to play the trumpet in the Muskrats jazz group he had set up with colleagues and friends. Throughout his life he excelled in racket sports. He played league tennis and squash (tennis for Clifton Lawn Tennis Club and squash for Bristol Hospitals) qualifying as a coach in both sports. He continued to play tennis in his retirement until well into his 70s. He also found time to publish an account of the  historic cycle ride he made across Spain from Santander to Gibraltar in 1991 with his  former Guy’s student colleague Roger James, though neither had sat on a bicycle for more than 50 years! ‘A Trans-Iberian Challenge – Cycling Through Spain’.  

In 2016 Reg was visited by Robin Mills, one of the six BSPD Presidents who had come under his tutelage at either the undergraduate or postgraduate level. Robin in his valedictory address recounted how his former teacher had generously donated his unique archive of the BSPD to the Society and that this is now safely housed in the Royal College of Surgeons.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.