Born: June 11,1956;

Died: July 3, 2019

A generation of West of Scotland dentists lost their mentor when Alan Walker finally succumbed to a long illness last month. Paisley born and bred, he followed his dentist parents, Douglas and Margaret into the family practice in his home town before his career took him into the world of dental education.

In 1974 Alan took what was then a well trodden path from Paisley Grammar School to Glasgow University, gaining his BDS in 1979 and MGDS in 1989. He was for 27 years senior partner in a local general practice, along with associates Andy Fyffe, Roddy Black and Abdul Haleem, who joined him in partnership. Under his guidance and example the practice doubled in size. Throughout this period he continued to maintain a strong connection with Glasgow Dental Hospital and School. His innovative drives saw him qualify as a hypnotherapist in 1995, helping patients with needle phobia and severe gagging difficulties.

He became a CPD tutor for the Scottish Council for Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education in 1994 and then for NES in 2002. I remember being asked by him to speak at one of his events when I was at the Law Society of Scotland on comparisons between the professions in continuing education and regulation. The esteem in which he was held by the entire audience and his sharp sense of humour live with me. In thanking me for my presentation, he said, ' Now next year, continuing our theme of hearing from professions even more unpopular than us...'

He introduced a number of CPD courses and this involvement in dental educational training saw him appointed as Director of Postgraduate Dental Education until his retirement in 2015.

Happily his stellar career was recognised in 2017 when he was awarded the Scottish Dental Lifetime Achievement Award. Modest to a fault, he was delighted, but bemused to be so honoured. "My initial reaction was one of surprise and bewilderment," he said. The tribute paid to him by longtime colleague Jimmy Boyle confirmed: "Literally thousands of new graduates have him to thank for support given to them in their first year of practice and for the sound principles he taught”.

But that tells only part of the story. Thousands of patients and hundreds of dentists will miss him. So will his friends who turned out in huge numbers at Paisley's Woodside Crematorium last month. Alan the man was as impressive as Alan the dentist. Talented, caring, giving, down to earth, he was a personal as well as professional role model.

The way he took his diagnosis and faced his illness was humbling. To the end he never let it get him down. "You know, he said, "I've worked out that I've been really healthy for 97% of my life, and that can't be a bad thing."

His passing resonates not just in the West Of Scotland but also Donegal. Endless trips to Arranmore to his in-laws, the Gallagher’s family house and to ensure prosperous retirements for the (many) local publicans saw Alan being accepted as a local. No mean feat.

The fags, the guitar, the van, the bikes, the dogs (latterly Bob) and the Bacardi were all part of this most human of professionals.

His loss is felt most by his family. His brother Gordon, the Gallaghers , but most of all by his wife Theresa, and his children Ashleigh, Lyndsay and Jack. All four of them impressively and bravely spoke at the celebration of his life. Our thoughts are with them.

Their father was quite simply a wonderful person.

Douglas Mill