William Ronald Edwards Laird qualified from the University of Glasgow in 1962. Following dental practice in London, Ronnie returned to Glasgow to become Lecturer in Pharmacology and then Dental Prosthetics. It was here that he met Kay his wife who worked as a staff nurse in the Oral Surgery Department. In 1970 he undertook research at the Eastman, London in physiological jaw movements and in 1974 worked at Manchester Dental School as Senior Lecturer in Prosthetics.
Ronnie was appointed Professor of Dental Prosthetics and Head of Department at the University of Birmingham from 1984 until his retirement in 2004. He was Director and Head of the School of Dentistry from 1989 to 94. There was turmoil and change at the University and Ronnie was asked by the Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Michael Thompson to undertake changes in Dentistry. Ronnie kept the ship afloat and Birmingham emerged a much stronger school.
Appointed as Public Orator for the University at Degree Ceremonies, Ronnie introduced well known honorary graduands prior to the award of their degree. His introductory speech for each of the awardees was meticulous in preparation.
Externally he served as Chair of the Council of Deans of Dental Schools (1993-95), President of the British Society of Prosthetic Dentistry (1996) and both member and Chair of various GDC committees, including the Finance Committee and Professional Conduct Committee (1989-2003). He was a champion of the education and training of Dental Nurse Assistants and was a member of their national examining board.
Ronnie was a super clinician on removable prosthodontics and did attract his fair share of difficult cases which he handled professionally and always put the interests of the patient first. He loved teaching dental students and a Facebook page set up as a memorial received over a hundred likes and many more comments. All attested to his fairness and expertise as a teacher in prosthetics.
Outside dentistry he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Scottish Football, and followed Queens Park where he sponsored the match ball at home games. He loved his cars including Rovers and Jaguars. In his latter years he spent time in Millport an island off the Scottish coast which was his “island of dreams”. Ronnie loved people, he loved conversations and he was in the true sense of the word, a raconteur. Never stuck for a story, an anecdote or a joke. At work gatherings or family events, he was often called to give the speech of thanks, he had a great gift in this area of capturing the moment in a few words.
He will be sorely missed by Kay, Simon and Sally, the wider family and his grand-daughters, Poppy and Charlotte.
ADW – January 2016