Audrey McClymont: An appreciation

AUDREY McCLYMONT, who died this year at the age of 67, was a prominent member of the dental profession in Scotland, who spent most of her working life treating special-needs children.

This happened, first, in a mobile van during her years in the Community Dental Service/public health service, and latterly when she was the only associate specialist in the Royal Hospital For Sick Children, in Yorkhill, Glasgow.

She had a special interest in the care of children and adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders and developed pathways of care and treatment for them.

The children and their parents loved her. She was renowned for her changing hair shades and her wacky sense of humour but, most importantly, for her loyalty and dedication to the welfare of the children.

She also had a huge input for many years to the dental care of children on the oncology ward in Yorkhill, a role that was similarly marked by her gentle and caring dedication to their wellbeing. She was a perfect role model and teacher for many undergraduate dental students and speciality trainees. Working with her was a master class for all her colleagues, junior and senior alike.

In 2013 the mother of a young boy nominated McClymont for an award in the Doctors category of a newspaper’s Scottish Health Awards.

The 11-year-old had cerebral palsy, epilepsy and quadriplegia, and McClymont, as a paediatric dentist at Yorkhill, had worked closely with him. “Audrey has always been great with him”, the mother said. “If we are having problems ... we can phone Audrey direct and she will see him right away. Nothing is too much trouble for her”.

McClymont held every role within the West of Scotland Branch of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) except Hon. Secretary, and went to nearly every local meeting and national conference.

It was often difficult for Community Dental Service staff to get leave to attend national conferences and she used to take annual leave to do so. In 1997 her boss was reluctant to let her take a holiday for the Glasgow BSPD annual conference until he was persuaded that it would look bad for him as Audrey, as president of the West of Scotland Branch, was opening it.

She had a huge input to the organisation of the 2011 Glasgow BSPD annual conference and, more famously, the biannual congress of the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry (IAPD), held at Glasgow’s SECC in 2015.

Of all her achievements in the service of paediatric dentistry, the story of her role on the organising committee of IAPD 2015 is legendary. Who else could have succeeded in getting Highland cattle and Clydesdale horses from Pollok Park into the grounds of SECC, so delegates could view them?

She was in her element showcasing her country. If anyone was going to design a tartan which, through its colours and checks, represented the speciality of paediatric dentistry, it was going to be Audrey.

The IAPD Tartan is registered in the Scottish Register of Tartans, reference 10395. The designer Strathmore Woollen Co Ltd uniquely insisted McClymont be listed as co-designer, such was her input and knowledge during the lengthy design process.

Paediatric dentistry was a very important part of her life, but it was not all-consuming by any means. She had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Scottish history, honed during her formative years accompanying her father on many excursions.

She was the perfect guide on many day trips and holidays with friends and colleagues. Junior colleagues who were new to Scotland would be invited to join her for a day out to a nearby castle, loch or island. She was the most generous and caring colleague, teacher, and friend.

After retiring she did not rest but administered all the arrangements for the 40th reunion of her dental graduation year and had already finalised plans for their 45th.

In 2014 she helped to set up a retired friends’ monthly walking group. She loved travelling, especially with friends who all have a myriad of stories and memories of the fun they shared with her.

Audrey had the gift of persuasion; her amazing ability to treat her small patients and gain their trust and co-operation was awe-inspiring. She also liked to lead her friends astray, which of course they loved. All her friends were stunned when she lost her fight with Covid-19.

Audrey McClymont (nee Milne) and her younger brother, Barry, were brought up and educated in East Kilbride. Their parents – their father was a civil engineer, their mother a domestic science teacher with a love of the local rep theatre – were from Montrose; they had first met on a train to Glasgow, and realised they both had the same surname.

McClymont graduated BDS from the University of Glasgow in 1977. Throughout her childhood she nurtured many long-lasting friendships.

Her love of Montrose, derived from many visits to her grandparents, was on par with her love of the small Greek village of Agios Stefanos in Corfu, where she spent many holidays and created wonderful memories for her two children, Zoe and Ross. She is survived by them and by her grandson, Bill.

Sheila Campbell, Pam Coia and Richard Welbury