Martin at St Stephens Dental Practice has some very sad news:
“On Sunday afternoon the 2nd April my Dad, Brian passed away after being ill on and off for the last couple of years. My Dad had lived in Canterbury all his life. He left school to take up an apprentice placement as a Dental Technician learning to construct dentures and crowns.
After National service he worked for a variety of dentists including Mr Matthews and Mr Gardener before becoming self employed in 1972. He built an extension on the back of my parents house in Stodmarsh Road and worked from there until retirement. He worked for quite a number of Canterbury dentists but in 1978 he was approached by George Hamill to do the work at St Stephens Dental Practice. As Mr Hamill opened more practices in Bridge then Wingham and Chestfield Dad worked almost exclusively for these.
When I qualified as a Dentist at the beginning of 1988 I started to work at St Stephens with Dad doing my work and I thought we were a good team. Because I saw him every day it was easy to communicate what details either of us needed. It is very rare to find a dentist son and dental technician father working together at all and I think we provided a very good personal service. We almost had a telepathy between us. Dad continued to work for me and the other dentists until 2010 when he retired.
The life of a Dental technician is quite a lonely one. You spend your life making very precise prostheses under the instruction of the Dentist. It is very time consuming and requires great concentration. Then you supply the item back to the Dentist who then gets all the praise and feedback from the patient. Positive feedback then rarely reaches the technician but negative feedback although rare always gets back to the poor Technician. So in spite of doing some brilliant work my Dad never really felt appreciated for what he did.
But what he did was truly great. Improving the smile of many Canterbury patients, providing a truly brisk turn around service and working well into the night if required as it was always impossible to gauge the level of work that would arrive. He was always available to help patients and dentists alike. And he was totally reliable and punctual.
I could go on but one of my patients summed it up quite nicely. I had been seeing this chap for a long time and Dad and I had made him some dentures a long while back. He came in again for a new set after Dad had retired. These were made and fitted and the chap seemed quite pleased. But a few years later in conversation he commented on the new teeth. He said “It is a shame your dad had to retire as his work was really very good. If I could liken my dentures to a car, I would say my new teeth are a Ford. The ones your Dad made were a Ferrari.” Praise indeed. And I did tell Dad.
So that was my father. Brian Southon. Unfortunately never realising how much he was appreciated by the dentists he worked for and the patients he helped. My mother, sister brother and I knew. And we knew what a great person he was away from work too.
And now we are being overwhelmed by the amount of lovely things people are saying about Dad. Loads of cards and messages saying how well liked he was.
He was a great Dad, a lovely man and a brilliant dental technician. And he will be greatly missed.”