Every year, it is a tradition at Glasgow Dental School that the Final Year students write and perform a Christmas pantomime. The show, which is staged at the Glasgow University Union, is always based around a fairytale or Disney movie but re-written with a dental theme. The script is full of references to life at the Dental School, so staff members who attend need a thick skin! Most importantly, the event is always a sell-out and raises a lot of money for charity.
Two very deserving charities were chosen by the Glasgow Dental Student Society this year as beneficiaries – Brain Tumour Research and Smileawi. Last Summer, a group of dental students from Glasgow and Dundee joined Smileawi to undertake a child oral health survey in rural Malawi, and several personal posts written by team members have appeared on this blog. The data are currently being analysed for publication and are informing the design of a national child oral health survey in Malawi over the next three years.
The students who had worked with Smileawi last Summer were all very involved with the panto production and one of them, Kirsty Smith, played the lead role of Baby Belle. They had no doubt been influential in the choice of charities to support!
During the interval, Joe Woollcott (Fundraising and Development Manager for Brain Tumour Research (Scotland & Northern Ireland)) and Nigel Milne (Trustee of Smileawi) spoke briefly to the audience about the work of their organisations.
The interval also provided an opportunity for the Smileawi / student team, that had worked so successfully together last Summer, to meet again in a very different venue – far from the evenings spent around the fire-pit at Umunthu Lodge in Mzuzu, relaxing after a hard day of clinical work.
During the second act there was a further reference to Glasgow Dental School’s collaborations with the University of Malawi College of Medicine, Dental Association of Malawi, Smileawi, Bridge2Aid and Dentaid, via a (doctored!) photograph of me delivering a presentation about the MalDent Project at a Scotland Malawi Partnership meeting in Edinburgh. Mysteriously, our BDS 5 student digital team had replaced my original slide with an image of our wonderful colleague and teacher from the University of Glasgow Anatomy Department, Professor Stuart MacDonald, who has been revered by many BDS classes over the years.
As ever, the BDS 5 scriptwriters brought the performance to a happy outcome for Glasgow Dental School.
Finally the show was over and the performers took their bows:
Afterwards I met with my ‘stunt double’, Amy Carroll, who in addition to playing the ‘Bagg role’ had also been the Script Supervisor for the show.
Amy and her whole team had done a fantastic job. In addition to the on-stage activities, the 24-piece orchestra was also superb, expertly led by its Musical Director, Ryan McSorley. The musicians were drawn from all five years of the BDS course, which bodes well for forthcoming pantos.
The Dental School Christmas Panto is a wonderful tradition. The skills of the students and their team-working never cease to impress, all in aid of good causes. Long may it continue.