GLYN THOMAS writes about Mr Barrie Tabberer who sadly passed away in August. However it has provided an opportunity to celebrate his life and give an insight into life in the Dental School from the sixties to the nineties. The school thanks Barrie’s family for allowing us to share several of these pictures
Mr Barrie Tabberer was promoted as a university employed dental instructor in 1966. He was the 4th instructor to be appointed to the ever expanding Conservation department which was housed in the St Chad’s, city centre site dental school / hospital, Birmingham.
Mr Tabberer established himself quickly in this department becoming widely known for his expert technique in being able to solder with 18 carat gold strips deficient proximal contact points or marginal edges to gold restorations such as FVC’s and inlays and more importantly at the time joining the components of a three unit gold bridge whilst the patient sat in their clinical chair.
Each dental student prior to the early 1980’s had to complete themselves with their instructor’s assistance, several gold restorations and a three unit gold bridge for their patients. Only then would they be considered eligible for their final’s examinations
Mr Tabberer would become frequently the “hero” of the hour. However his students quickly became renowned catchers standing to the back of Mr Tabberer’s teaching / workshop bench area. For after the gold restoration had been rectified by soldering and plunged hot in acid to clean the resulting oxide layer off it required a final polish. This was achieved by using polishing rouge and a very fast rotating felt mop. The hand pieces were driven prior to 1976 by cord driven pulleys that extended over the operator on a long arm.
Mr Tabberer’s saying to all his students was “Bullshit Baffles Brains”. This implied if he achieved what he was setting out to do a dazzling shine to the restored restoration those members of staff on the clinical floors will think the student had worked extremely hard to achieve such perfection.
The students had become aware with the small loaded felt mop spinning at highest revolutions possible the likelihood was the restoration would be flung out on orbit across the teaching room. More often than not this is exactly what happened. If the student didn’t want to waste time by being on their hands and knees along with everyone else they could gather to search for highly glistening restoration it paid to don safety glasses and stand behind Mr Tabberer as if one was protecting an all-important cricket wicket.
Of course the occasion had to arise during the summer months, with the teaching room windows full open and Mr Tabberer undertaking his high speed polishing regime, a gold piece ricocheted off the far wall to fall out an open window on the 8th floor. The poor student was in despair. He looked around the room thoroughly. It must have flown out. The patient was in the dental chair with an empty cavity! Several students went down to the ground floor remembering which window it was up on the 8th floor and searched around the staff car park. No luck. Just as they were about to give up the sparkling restoration was found on the roof of one of the staff members vehicles. It was intact and fitted perfectly. There were appreciative drinks bought that evening after work.
Mr Tabberer was always acknowledged for his amazing memory. He took a special interest in all the staff and students he worked with. Even at Thomson thirty year reunions for past dental undergraduates he could individually remember their times at the institution, the football team they supported and where they had sought their profession career. He was very knowledgeable in all aspects of; worldly affairs, travel, geography, snakes, and various religions. He was continually being teased by his students that he sounded more like their grand-parents, for he knew more about their back ground than the present younger generation. He was genuinely interested in them.
Mr Tabberer began his lifelong career in dental technology on January 1st 1945 at the Medical School Dental Laboratory at Edgbaston Birmingham as a school boy apprentice just turned 15 years old. Four years later he qualified and began his National Service which was compulsory then in the Royal Air Force, Dental Branch, Middle East. He was stationed in Egypt. He returned to Birmingham to take up his place in the prosthetics laboratory. Birmingham Dental Hospital. Mr Tabberer developed an interest maxilla-facial work that was undertaken at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He would in his “free time” observe the technical approaches a then technical expert Mr John Dick would employ for maxilla facial reconstructive appliances.This specialist interest and his in-depth knowledge of prosthetic technical work held him in good stead for his appointment to the Nigerian Dental Service. Mr Tabberer’s six year spell in Nigeria was rewarding for him, memorable for his family, and all the African patients appreciative that had denture and maxilla-facial appliances made for them. When Mr Tabberer returned to England he was appointed as the chief dental technician to the crown and bridge laboratory, again at the Birmingham Dental School and Hospital. Appointed as a dental instructor from 1966 through to 1993 he is best remembered as a well-respected fatherly figure to all staff and students.
Mr Tabberer years in retirement were busy encouraging his grand-children in their individual pursuits of sport, music, arts and crafts, and general interests that he always knew in depth something about their raised topics. He was always so proud of them all. He never “left” dentistry throughout all his retirement years, for he always requested latest dental journals, attended the successive thirty year university reunions, and the elective presentations of the 4th year students whom had spent their summer months undertaking a scientific dental project somewhere in this country or abroad. He so looked forward to hearing from the younger generation how dentistry was developing.
Mr Barrie Anthony Tabberer was born on December 27th 1929. He died on August 10th 2014, aged 85. To Joan his wife, Peter and Nadine his children and to his grandchildren Matthew, Carys, Lily and Emily we offer our deepest condolences.
GLYNN THOMAS 3rd September 2014