The College of General Dentistry is delighted to announce the launch of its “College Ambassadors” scheme and the appointment of its first Ambassadors – the Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP, Professor Dame Parveen Kumar and Dr Shelagh Farrell FFGDP(UK).

College Ambassadors are to be drawn from different backgrounds and walks of life. They will support engagement of the College in society, and promote its influence in the interests of patients, building trust and confidence in the dental profession.

Other Ambassadors will be appointed in the coming weeks, as the College works towards its historic, formal launch later in the year, COVID restrictions permitting. 

Our Ambassadors will help us to ensure dentistry is properly recognised for its importance as an integral element of general healthcare. They will support the College’s mission to develop public confidence in, and appreciation of the benefits of contemporary dentistry and the importance of oral health.

Chair of the College Board of Trustees, Professor Nairn Wilson, said:

“The Board of Trustees of the College is delighted and most grateful to Sir Mike, Dame Parveen and Shelagh Farrell for accepting the invitation to become the first of what is hoped to become a number of high profile, influential Ambassadors from many different backgrounds. The Trustees greatly look forward to working with our Ambassadors in realising the goal of a College which gives general dentistry new leadership, fresh standards, much-needed career pathways and enhanced professional standing in the interests of patients and the public.”

Commenting on his appointment Sir Mike said: “It is a great honour to be asked to be an Ambassador for the College of General Dentistry. We are witnessing technological advances in every area of healthcare and dentistry is no exception, so now is a perfect time to set up a new college to promote excellence and cooperation within the profession for the benefit of dentists and patients alike.”

Dame Parveen said: “’I am absolutely delighted that the College of General Dentistry is being formed and am honoured to be invited to be an Ambassador. Dentistry should take its rightful place with the other healthcare colleges and have a collegiate voice in the health of the nation. I look forward to working with the College.”

Dr Farrell said: “I am delighted to be an ambassador for the new College of General Dentistry. When the FGDP was established in 1992 it was always the ultimate aim to progress the Faculty into an independent College. After 28 years this ambition is being realised – a great achievement for the dental profession.”

Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP

Following a career in the army in the Grenadier Guards, as a firefighter in Essex, running a family business and political journalism, Sir Mike entered Parliament as the MP for Hemel Hempstead in 2005. 

He served on the Health Select Committee before being appointed as a Shadow Health Minister. Following the Conservative win in the 2010 general election he was appointed as a junior Minister at the Department for Transport. Subsequent reshuffles saw him serve as a Minister in the Northern Ireland Office, Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office before finally serving as Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence.

He was appointed as a Privy Counsellor in 2014 and knighted for services to politics in 2018.

Professor Dame Parveen Kumar DBE

Parveen is Professor of Medicine and Education at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. She is a physician and gastroenterologist. She has been President of the British Medical Association, President of the Royal Society of Medicine, President of the Medical Women’s Federation, and Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians, where she also held the roles of Censor, director of Continuing Professional Development and associate International Director for Education. She chaired the Medicines Commission UK, was a founding non-executive Director of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and chaired the BUPA Foundation for Research. She co-founded and co-edits Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine, now in its 9th edition, a medical textbook used all over the world.

She is currently the President of the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, chairs the board of Science at the BMA, is on two committees at Genomics England. She is ambassador for the UK Health Alliance for Climate Change. She is on various advisory boards and charities as a trustee (including British Youth Opera, Barts Charity, BMA Foundation). She has championed the role of women in medicine. She has won several prizes and awards and was awarded CBE in 2000 and DBE in 2017.

Dr Shelagh Farrell FFGDP(UK)

Shelagh Farrell was a Board Member of the FGDP(UK) from 1992 until 2017, serving as Vice-Dean on two occasions. Prior to that, she was a member of its precursor, the Advisory Board in General Dental Practice to the FDS (England) from 1982 to 1992, and a member of the FDS Board from 1987 to 1992. In recognition of 35 years’ service to the RCS of England she was presented with the first Faculty Medal of the FGDP(UK) in 2019.

In 1987 Shelagh was the first woman to be elected on to the Council of the BDA and has served as President of both the Western Counties and Southern Counties Branch of the BDA. She was also an elected member of the GDC from 1986-1991 and 1994-2001.

Qualifying in 1971 Shelagh was appointed as a House Officer and Senior House Officer at Bristol Dental Hospital before starting her own practice from scratch on the outskirts of Bristol. The practice expanded and so she took on an associate and a hygienist, and later on an orthodontist. Having studied for her MSc in conservative dentistry at the Eastman Dental Hospital in 1990-91 she became a partner in a multi-disciplinary practice in Reigate, Surrey and in 2000 was entered on to the specialist list of Prosthodontics. Today she is still treating referred patients in removable prosthodontics.