The Man Behind The Mask
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Steve Van Russelt
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Why did you become a dentist? I was brought up in a loving working-class home on a council estate in North Cheshire. I have two brothers, the eldest Frank qualified as a dentist which was quite a feat from our humble beginnings.
He then seemed to be able to afford the things that were out of our reach when we were growing up, and I liked that idea!
Frank went on to be well known within the political dental circles and was also a FtP member at the GDC before retiring and concentrating on being a musician.
I will always be grateful to the Grammar School system that gave us the aspiration to achieve bigger and better things. Also, the grants from Cheshire County Council that made further education financially feasible at Manchester Dental Hospital. Where have you worked? After qualification I initially worked in Lancashire as an associate. I'm not that ancient but once a week I would be an operator extracting teeth whilst a Doctor administered GA within the surgery. Oh, how I don't miss those days! I subsequently moved back to Cheshire and started working in Crewe. This changed to Shrewsbury, working with the same people, and I have remained there since 1992 as an associate, then a partner, and now an associate again when the practice was sold. What about your family? I have been married to Jen for 30 years this year. We recently celebrated with a trip to Cuba.
As you can imagine we are very proud that our son Alex qualified with a First Class Master’s degree in Physics from Imperial College London, and this year our daughter Kim gained a First Class Honours degree in English from Kings’ College London. How did you get into producing websites? I had been creating a few simple html websites as a hobbyist which progressed to a listing site of dental websites utilizing cgi software. I was asked through my brother to produce a website for the National Association of Dental Advisers. I went on to modify a content management system that could be used for Local Dental Committees and several LDC's employed that model. I have also produced the LDC Conference website and the initial incarnation of the London LDC’s website.
The coding side of things was self-taught using the internet, mainly PHP programming language and MySql databases. How did you come to work on GDPUK? I joined Tony Jacobs' mailing list on Yahoo Groups. A short time later Tony was looking to move the site to his own server to use mainly public domain software and give more flexibility and features.
He employed a company abroad but they didn't quite have the where with all to produce the code to create the Digest emails and send them out to the appropriate people.
I was invited round to Tony's home in Manchester and with my fingers firmly crossed said that I'd be able to make it work, and subsequently I did. Since then there have been a lot of software updates and a move from the server in the US to a much more appropriate Mancunian home. Why the mask? I adopted that as my avatar as a form of online protection during the Avian 'Flu outbreak, and it sort of stuck. Not literally. If I meet people at Dental Exhibitions they often ask me where my mask is.
The fact is I rarely wear one :) What do you do outside of dentistry and websites?
I have a liking for home cinema, good quality audio and also DIY projects. Combining the two I installed a projector screen into the ceiling void in my living room. The dining room is now also known as cinema 2 for the surround system in there. I do also like a fast Ford to drive about in too. What do you hope for the future of GDPUK? I feel sure that GDPUK will continue to be a valuable resource for the profession, and that through the wide range of knowledge and experience of its members that useful advice can continue to be shared amongst each other. I thank Tony for the opportunities that this work has given me.
Michael Watson catches up with the man behind the mask and the GDPUK Webmaster -

Steve Van Russelt.

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