John Brookman FCGDent, FFGDP(UK)(Hon.), one of the founding board members of the Faculty of General Dental Practice, and an instrumental founder of Vocational Training for GDPs, passed away peacefully on 27 January, aged 92.

John at the teaching laboratory bearing his name at the Guildford Education Centre

Born David John Brookman in Watford in 1931, he pursued a desire to be a dentist from childhood, and in 1954 qualified from the Royal Dental Hospital, London, with both the LDS and BDS.

Working as a general dental practitioner in Surrey, in 1957 he married Penny, with whom he had four children, Mark, Lucy, James and Claire.

In the early 1960s, he suffered a mental health breakdown and had to suspend his dental career. With support from friends and family he made a full recovery, during which he re-trained as a teacher. This proved to be a pivotal experience in his return to dentistry.

In 1970, he purchased a practice in Banstead, expanding it to five full-time dentists with part-time associates and hygienists, serving a mix of NHS and private patients.

In 1973, he became an assistant dental tutor for the British Postgraduate Medical Federation. Recognising the gap between the degree of competence required for daily dental practice and the level acquired at dental school, from 1975 he established the UK’s first Vocational Training scheme for general dental practitioners in Guildford. This laid the foundation for nationwide vocational training, which was later organised on a voluntary basis for some years by the Committee for Vocational Training (of which he was a member) before it became a statutory requirement in 1993. He also set up educational programmes for dental tutors and teachers, introducing clinical audit and peer review and emphasising problem-solving through practical application.

He had university links including being a research lecturer at the Eastman Dental Hospital  and was Senior Dental Advisor to Surrey Health Services and the Thames Post Graduate Regions. It was a particular pleasure for him to be present for the naming after him of the skills room at the Guildford Education Centre in 2013 to commemorate his achievements.

He passed the Membership in General Dental Surgery examination of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, achieved Fellowship of the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) and was Chairman of the UK Conference of Dental Advisors. He was also President of the British Dental Association’s Southern Counties branch, a founder advisor to the editorial board of The Dentist, and co-produced three educational films with the editor of the British Dental Journal on techniques for fissure sealing, impressions and endodontics.

A founder of the College of General Dental Practitioners of the United Kingdom (CGDP) – one of several organisations established at the time to pursue the postgraduate educational interests of general practice dentists – he was among those involved in discussions which ultimately united like-minded GDPs behind the formation of the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners at the RCS, and in 1992 he became one of the Faculty’s founding board members.

John and Penny retired to Keswick in 1993, and he embraced life, enjoying fell walking and wood turning. They were both active members of the village church and his Christian faith was hugely important to him, shaping how he lived and worked.

He received Honorary Life Membership of the BDA in 1999, and in 2012 was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the FGDP in recognition of his significant contributions both to postgraduate dental education and to the Faculty’s history. He joined the College of General Dentistry at its launch in 2021, later becoming a Life Fellow.

Alongside his many professional accomplishments and community commitments, he was regarded by those who knew him as a true gentleman.

Sadly, Penny died from cancer in 2007. John continued to walk the fells well into his eighties, and it would have meant the world to him that he was able to live out his life in the home he loved so much.

Please note this obituary was amended in March 2024 in light of further biographical information