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Our History


The Beginning

The need for a benevolent fund for members of the dental profession was first identified in 1856 by Samuel Lee Rymer. An article, in the forerunner to the British Dental Journal, in 1873 publicly promoted the proposition to the profession. However it was not until the early 1880s that any serious discussions took place.

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First Meeting

In August 1883 Lee Rymer saw his dream become a reality when the first meeting was held in his hometown of Plymouth. A Management Committee was appointed under the chairmanship of (Sir) John Tomes and the Fund began. The Committee were made up of members of the profession, many representing branches of the BDA.

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The First Help

The first help was given – £116 in grants were given to 8 beneficiaries including;

  • A dentist who has broken down in health, with a paralysed wife and no means of support, unable to work at his profession.
  • A widow with seven children and no means what so ever. Two of the children are being educated and provided for at Orphan Schools, and the widow is being trained in an occupation that will enable her to support some of her other children
  • A daughter of a deceased dental surgeon is being provided with board, lodging and education at the expense of the fund with a view to her receiving such training as will enable her to earn her own living.

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The Need For A Charity

The Committee, by the time of the first Annual General Meeting in August 1884, believed they had ample proof of the need for a benevolent fund by the ‘recital’ of cases that had come to their notice in the first six months. They also noted that the rate of income at that time would prove totally inadequate to the probable expenditure. The Committee commented “Your Committee are most solicitous to know whether a body of men who claim to belong to a liberal and learned profession will allow the widows of their deceased brethren to remain in want and their children to grow up in ignorance.” 

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First Fundraiser

Photograph of the first British Dental Association AGM. Copies were sold for 5s in aid of the Benevolent Fund.

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Grant Support Increases

Their predictions proved correct and the number of beneficiaries continued to rise – 38 beneficiaries were being helped by 1925. The type of beneficiary helped over the years has altered: in the early years the emphasis was on retired practitioners or their widows who had fallen on hard times.

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Welfare State

The Beverage Report officially entitled Social Insurance and Allied Services was published. It formed the basis for the post-war reforms known as the Welfare State including the expansion of National Insurance and the creation of the National Health Service.

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Social Reform

Many social policies, recommended in the Beverage Report were implemented reforming pensions, national insurance, rent and funds for family life. This didn’t initially change the remit of the charity but it was thought applications for support would decline. However that was not the case and the number of beneficiaries continued to rise.

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Charity Registration

BDA Benevolent Fund was registered as a charity under the new Charities Act (1960) which introduced the register of charities and gives the Charity Commission powers to investigate charities.

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1972 -1983

Ladies Guild

The Benevolent Fund formed a Ladies Guild on the lines of one already associated with the British Medical Association. Due to lack of support, it was regretfully decided to disband the Ladies Guild in 1983.

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Christmas Draw

The idea of a fundraising raffle at Christmas was created, which was run annually. Originally the top prize was a car.

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Funding From The Profession

The Dental Science Advancement Foundation was reluctantly disbanded by its Directors who kindly gave the residue of its funds (£2787) to the BDA Benevolent Fund.

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Fundraising Through Merchandise

As a fundraiser, the new BDA tie was introduced in blue, maroon and grey and proved popular with BDA members, selling at the annual conference and generating funds for the Benevolent Fund. Many more items were introduced over time including sweatshirts, silk scarves, polo shirts, Christmas cards, baseball caps, diaries, umbrellas, coasters and mugs, etc.

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Government Changes

New rules approved on 2 June 1995 came into effect and the Committee of Management became the ‘Board of Trustees’ with a slightly smaller membership and losing the position of elected members. The ‘Secretary’ became ‘Administrator’ and the option of computerised records was to be investigated.

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New Administrator

Sally Atkinson was appointed as the Fund’s first full time administrator in March 1997 and worked for the charity until her retirement in May 2013.

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Ben Bear

A cuddly toy bear known affectionately as ‘Ben Bear’ was first sold at the BDA Conference in Torquay and subsequent events to raise funds and awareness of the Benevolent Fund.

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New Logo

Trustee Dr John Turner designed the present logo. He was representative for the Western Counties BDA branch and involved with the BDA Benevolent Fund for over 30 years until his retirement in 2016.

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125 Years

The BDA Benevolent Fund celebrates supporting dentists and their families for 125 years at the BDA Conference.

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Last Christmas Draw

The Christmas draw was organised for the last time. During its lifetime it was run by three people; Tony Chivers for approximately 14 years; Sylvia Theaker for 10 years and Mavis Phipps for 13 years and raising nearly £800,000 in aid of the Benevolent Fund – its most successful fundraiser to date.

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Olympic Torch

Vice-President, Tony Chivers MBE was a torch bearer for the 2012 Olympics, aged 92. He was nominated due his charity work, particularly for his involvement in the BDA Benevolent Fund.

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Be Active

A campaign was launched- ‘Be Active for the Ben Fund’, encouraging the profession to undertake fundraising activities all across the country as well as a photographic competition to help raise money and spread the word about the charity.

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Changes to 'The Rules'

At the Annual General Meeting on 13 June, resolutions were put forward and unanimously agreed to; amend the Membership; update and modernise the administrative and procedural process of the Charity, and to the election and nomination of Trustees. This has been the most significant governance change to the organisation in over 30 years.

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Due to Covid-19 and the global pandemic, the profession understood the need for an occupational charity more than ever with a 3 fold increase in applications.



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New Branding

A new website and branding was launched with the aim to make it easier for the dental community to understand the relevance of the charity whether in training, in work or in retirement.

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At the AGM the members agreed to the resolution to start supporting asylum seeker and refugee dentists. Following this there was a panel discussion on the Future of Dentistry and a drinks reception for Trustees and supporters to celebrate the Charity’s 140th anniversary.

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Have we helped you?

If you’ve been helped recently, or if you or your family have been supported, or involved with the charity at any point since we were established in 1883, we’d love to hear more.

Other Ways To Get Involved

Dr Austin Banner


  • Trustee since 2010
  • Dental speciality – Retired consultant Orthodontist
  • County – Southern Counties
  • I am a Past President of the BDA Southern Counties Branch with extensive experience in committee, management, teaching, and training.

Dr Peter Crooks


  • Trustee since 2020
  • Dental Speciality – General Dental Practitioner
  • County – Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • I am the representative of the Principal Executive Committee of the BDA on the BDA Benevolent Fund Board. I hope to continue and foster the close working relationship between the Charity and the BDA, of whose members are also members of the charity. I’m also a Director and Secretary of a charitable company – CHEERS Youth Centre

Dr Molly Deykin


  • Trustee since 2020
  • Dental speciality – General Dental Practitioner
  • County – London
  • I have been involved in student support groups and I was elected British Dental Student Association President. I worked with the Sands Cox Charity when I was the Dental School Society Vice-President. After graduating I was the Foundation Dentist Representative on the BDA Young Dentists Committee.

Dr Allan Franklin


  • Trustee since 2003
  • Dental speciality – General Dental Practitioner for 35 years
  • County – Oldham/ Rochdale
  • I am the Chairman of BDA Oldham & Rochdale Section (and previous Secretary). Chairman for the E.Lancs & E Cheshire Branch of BDA in charge of section regeneration. Previous Chairman of British Society for Dental Hypnosis (as it was then) and involved in Local Dental Committees.

Dr Alex Gormley


  • Trustee since 2020
  • Dental Speciality – Academic Clinical Fellow at the University of Bristol
  • County – Bristol
  • I have worked in primary dental care and a maxillofacial unit since graduation. I am continuing my dental core training alongside academic training at the University of Bristol. I also serve as the Early Career Representative as an invited board member at the FDS at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Dr Chris Hayward


  • Trustee since 2013
  • Dental speciality – Associate Specialist in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Lead Clinician Dental Emergency Department Newcastle Dental Hospital, Honorary  Clinical Lecturer Newcastle Dental School
  • County – Newcastle/ Northern Counties
  • I have been active in the BDA at Section, Branch, and National Levels. I was a member of the Rep Board/Body; a former member of the BDA PEC; a Director of International Affairs; and the previous BDA Board.

Dr Philip Henderson


  • Trustee since 2006
  • Dental Speciality-Principal Practice Owner and in General Dental Service for 37 years.
  • County – Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • I have been a Church Elder for 34 years with pastoral care responsibility Local Dental Adviser for Dental Protection including attending GDC Hearings and Probity work in NHS Current member “Probing Dental Stress” group in N.I.
  • Past: LDC Chair, N.I.DPC Chair, Northern Ireland Branch BDA President, Director of the BDA’s PEC for two terms

Dr Ros Keeton


  • Trustee since 2008
  • Dental Specialty – Leadership and management of Dental Services
  • County – Shropshire
  • I am an experienced NHS Chief Executive and health care leader who combines a dental background with substantial leadership experience. I am also a Chairman of a specialist hospice and EOL charity Compton Care. I am a passionate and committed advocate for dentists in distress.

Dr Stuart Robson


  • Trustee since 2006
  • Dental speciality – A General Dental Practitioner
  • County– North Yorkshire
  • Former President of BDA 1999- 2000, previous Vice-Chairman of BDA Council and also Dental Services Committee. On behalf of North Yorkshire LDC, was organiser and lead of the North Yorkshire PASS (Practitioner Advice and Support Scheme) preventing some dentist with problems having dire financial and professional difficulties.

Dr Bill Creedon


  • Trustee since 2014
  • Dental speciality – GDP
  • County – Hampshire
  • I have been in general practice for over 20 years as a practice owner in Southampton. The last four years I have been also working at Kings College, London. I am Chair of the BDA’s Wessex branch and Vice Chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight LDC.