Lions Clubs in partnership with Dentaid
Doctor Rosemary Longhurst, BDS, of Dentaid, tells of this remarkable Lions/Dentaid partnership
Many Lions may not be aware of the massive support the oral health charity Dentaid receives from Lions Clubs throughout the Multiple District, especially with the collection of equipment and the sponsorship of projects.
Dentaid is an influential UK-based dental charity which has supported around 260 projects in over 60 countries by supplying refurbished dental surgery equipment, engineer training, school oral health programmes and dental volunteer missions to fulfil its aim – Improving The World's Oral Health.
Since the partnership began in 2001, Lions have raised nearly £80,000 towards sponsoring Dentaid projects in Cambodia, Zambia, Colombia, Mongolia, Uganda, Cameroon, Nepal, India, Romania and Bangladesh. The first completed Lions-Dentaid project in 2003 was the installation of eight fully refurbished dental surgeries to the Zambian Government Dental Training School in Lusaka. Previously the 30 students had only two working surgeries in which to train. Together with the Lions Club of Kapila, Dentaid was able to make an official handover to Zambia's Ministry of Health.
Lions Club members have also made over 1200 collections of donated equipment, have heavily supported the overseas schools toothbrushing programmes, and made significant donations towards portable chair and surgery development projects.
Richard Frost of Blackmore Vale Club in 105-D is the Lions Representative at Dentaid and coordinates all the collections. His prompt and efficient response to the offers of equipment from dental practices is much appreciated by them, and collection is usually arranged within a few weeks. (The fastest was by Swanwick Lions who were issued a job on 27 February, and collected and delivered it to Dentaid the same day!)
George Wagland from the Blackmore Vale Lions Club writes of his Dentaid experience:
"How do you fancy a day trip to Mirfield in Yorkshire to pick up some dental stuff?" was the question from our then President, Ian Simpson. I had only been a Lion for a few months and here I was being asked to visit the ends of the earth as far as us Somerset boys are concerned – well, ends of the UK anyway.
"Never even heard of Mirfield - nice try but what's the catch" was the guarded reply.
"No catch, there are a number of items of dental equipment and appliances that are no longer needed by the local South Yorkshire dental practitioners and dental hospitals, and it's all stored ready for collection in a dental practice in Mirfield, and Dentaid have asked the Blackmore Vale Lions to transfer the equipment to their HQ in Southampton" said Ian.
"I'll pick you up at 06:00 on Thursday" he said. "Don't worry I've got a Satnav, so we won't get lost"
Well, I have rediscovered since retirement that at 05:00 on a winter morning it is quite cold and very dark and pretty much for me still the middle of the night. However duly fed and watered, with sarnies and flask at the ready, Ian turned up with the Dentaid van dead on 06:00 and off we went.
We finally get off the M1 and head off through Huddersfield into Dewsbury and see the sign for Mirfield, so engage Satnav and it points us in all sorts of directions and we keep looping around ourselves. We wind down the window to ask a local chap if we are heading in the right direction for Taylor Hall Lane in Mirfield?
"Aye up lads, thee are lost tha knows - Tha best be goin baaach a ways and head up twads aspital" is what we thought he sort of said. Well, we tried that and it sort of worked; however it seemed a little further than we were led to believe so when we saw a young and very pretty young policewoman we thought good chance to a) see if we could be understood and b) engage our little boys lost routine and get some genuine help.
She was as good at directions as she was looking, and assured us that we were only about half a mile away. So here we are outside the Dental Care Centre - Mr H K Gupta & Associates. One of the practice's dental nurses greets us.
"Hi there - we have come to pick up some dental equipment for Dentaid" we said. "Oh yes, that's right. It's out in the back store room" the young lady replied. "If you bring the van around the back I'll open it up and show you" she said.
We only had a smallish transit type van and here we were confronted by what seemed like half the dental equipment in Yorkshire. There were X-Ray machines - complete "in the field" dental system packages -various other bits of equipment that, to those of us who do not like visiting dentists, could be mistaken for instruments of torture.
"We're never going to get all that in this van" we observed, so we agreed that we should take the equipment which appeared to be of most value and potentially Mr Gupta arrived mid loading and advised us further as to which equipment we should take. Two hours later we had finished loading and we could not get another thing in.
Finally back on the road and it's 3:45. Four hours later, we arrive back at my house. For of most use and tried to cram as much as we could into the van without going over the load limit.
me the day is over but Ian then has to take the van and its cargo on down to Dentaid HQ (midway between Salisbury and Southampton) the following day.
I don't know how long it took to unload all the equipment, but I am sure it wasn't easy. However I am certain that the whole journey was totally worth the effort. If this equipment helps cure some of the horrific stories that we hear about overseas dentistry then I am proud to have helped in some small way.
It certainly puts my petty moans into perspective.