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Dentist's out-of-reach sporting dream

PUBLISHED: 15:23 13 February 2008 | UPDATED: 08:50 13 July 2010

In the latest of her new series of profiles on local people KAREN BETHELL meets a man who is accustomed to dealing with people at very close range - he's a dentist who works mainly with children and young patients and whose practice has more than 10,000 people on its books.

STANDFIRST In the latest of her new series of profiles on local people KAREN BETHELL meets a man who is accustomed to dealing with people at very close range - he's a dentist who works mainly with children and young patients and whose practice has more than 10,000 people on its books.

Cromer dentist Graham Best was born the son of a shoe shop manager at Norwich. After leaving the City of Norwich School, he spent 5 years studying dentistry at Liverpool University, before working for a year at a city surgery.

Keen to practice a wider range of dental treatments, and to build on his increasing interest in orthodontics, in 1976 he joined Corner House dental practice at Cromer, where the poor provision of orthodontic treatment meant patients needing braces were forced to join a long waiting list.

The 5-dentist practice, which Graham runs in partnership with Richard Hardy and Christelle Abeln, has expanded over the years and currently has more than 10,000 patients on its books.

Graham, who looks after mainly children and young people, works part time with a Norwich orthodontic consultant, also treating patients at Cromer referred by dentists all over north Norfolk.

He provides specialist treatment to more than 500 patients, some of whom come from as far afield as Fakenham and Burnham Market.

Graham lives at Cromer with his wife Jen, a teaching assistant at Cromer High School.

The couple, who met at Graham's brother and fellow dentist Colin's graduation at Leeds University, have two children - Robert, 23, who is studying material science engineering at Birmingham University, and Liz, 26, who is a musician.

In his spare time, Graham enjoys playing cricket for Eaton Cricket Club, where a number of his team mates are old school friends.

What is the best thing about your job?

People come in with all sorts of problems - right up to those needing jaw surgery, so I suppose it's the satisfaction of getting results.

And the worst?

I can find myself in frustrating situations ranging from having to treat difficult patients to having technically challenging patients where I have to make compromises to get results.

What one possession would you save from a fire?

That would have to be my contact lenses - everything is a blur without them!

Where do you go to unwind?

My garden, or out for a walk in the countryside.

What is your favourite Norfolk building?

I love Norwich Cathedral and the Cathedral Close as it is very striking and it's in a nice quiet area.

Have you ever done anything outrageous?

I have, in the past, climbed mountains, although I wasn't very good at it and actually fell off once. Luckily, I was attached to a rope!

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My hesitancy, I tend to sit on the fence too much. At work I have to make quick decisions and act on them, but privately I think I should have more courage of my convictions.

What is your proudest moment?

It's probably a bit clichéd, but I would have to say when my children were born. It's a huge event in anyone's life, there's no doubt about it.

And your greatest achievement?

I've missed out on playing for England - be it cricket, football or darts, I wouldn't have minded which - so I'm still waiting for my greatest achievement!

Who do you most admire?

People who have made a difference in the world, from Bob Geldof to Kofi Annan, and all those in between who aren't afraid to stand up and be counted.

Do you have any fears or phobias?

Nothing seems to faze me very much; in this job you have to take things in your stride. There is a very high rate of depression and suicide amongst dentists and I think that if you take things too seriously, you can go under. It's a high pressure job where you are governed by the clock, but I try not to let that worry me - as my patients will testify!

What makes you angry?

Not much, just silly things like DIY jobs that don't go quite right.

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

Hard Times by Charles Dickens, Lord of the Rings, and, on TV, I'll watch just about any sport from darts to rugby.

How would you like to be remembered?

I don't want to be remembered - not just yet anyway!

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