We’ve had a lot of firsts in oral health sciences at Essex, and I think that’s what I’m most proud of. We run the only dental-hygienist-to-therapist development programme in the country, and we launched the first ever Masters programme for dental hygienists and therapists in the UK. We also established an academic dental clinic in Colchester where students can actually treat patients and learn first-hand. So the School is a big source of pride for me, because of how innovative and pioneering it is. I love the symbiotic relationship between teaching and practice. Teaching keeps your practice up-to-date, and practice makes your teaching more effective, because it involves the real-life working environment.
The person who set up the hygiene programme at the University was a lady called Kimmy Eldridge; the Health and Social Care building at the Colchester Campus is named after her. She was an absolute inspiration and when I first took over running oral health sciences, it was her voice I could always hear in my ear, pushing me to take everything further. She always believed that anything could be overcome; there was always a way you could work past any hurdles. If you want to see new things, new programmes, new buildings, you have to just push past any issues. She was a very determined person, and that determination has really stuck with me.
I believe in working hard and making the best use of my time; even when you’re unwinding, I think you should use that time effectively. I try to relax by playing cricket, but it isn’t always exactly relaxing – this weekend I managed to land on my head while trying to catch the ball!