Plaque stolen from dentist surgery returned to Ferry Road surgery

The plaque has since been returned.
The plaque has since been returned.
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A DELIGHTED dentist is celebrating after a stolen copper plaque dedicated to her late father turned up on her doorstep.

The Evening News reported last week how the plate to Frederick Allan Townsend was snatched from the front wall of his surgery in Ferry Road.

Daughter and fellow dentist Kirsten Townsend was left devastated and appealing for the sentimental keepsake’s return.

“I heard a commotion and various people saying ‘Oh my God!’,” said Ms Townsend, 64. “The plaque was retrieved from under one of the plant pots.

“It’s wonderful that it has been returned and we are pleased that whoever took it had a pang of conscience.

Former Broughton School student Mr Townsend bought the surgery, one of the oldest in the city, with wife May in 1954 after graduating from Edinburgh Dental School.

The couple were wed in 1951 at North Leith Parish Church in a ceremony brought forward before Mr Townsend headed to Malaya to complete his National Service in the Royal Army Dental Corps.

On his return, he set about turning the dilapidated premises into a thriving business with his wife, who helped out on reception and chair-side.

“As we lived ‘above the shop’ my father would see patients at all times,” recalled Kirsten.

“He would never turn away anyone in pain and I remember him extracting a tooth for a patient on Christmas Day.

“He was an extremely kind, patient and popular man, a fact borne out till today by the number of people that continue to speak of him with huge affection. He was also an excellent dentist!”

When not attending patients in the surgery, Mr Townsend enjoyed “an encyclopaedic knowledge” of aeroplanes and classical music, said Kirsten, who joined the practice in 1976.

“My father had the capacity to remember details about his patients’ lives and during his retirement was always happy to come across someone and stop to catch up,” she added.

Mr Townsend retired in February 1991 and died in December 2013 after a brief illness.

“I was very sad to learn that it had been stolen and my mother was particularly 
distressed by the event,” said Ms Townsend.

“The copper plate is symbolic of their hopes and aspirations and putting it up at the front door was a very proud moment and it has remained there until now.

“I understand that a lady who worked with dad for many years and then with me until her retirement five years ago burst into tears when she heard the story.

“It’s an item of little monetary value, a few pounds’ worth of scrap copper, but the quite astounding messages and depth of feeling that have been relayed to me regarding the theft are a comforting measure of the true value of the 
man.”

Staff and patients alike were left upset at news the plaque had been taken – with plans to find a more secure home for it on its return.

Ms Townsend added: “We will re-hang it but probably inside. It’s wonderful to have experienced the depth of feeling for the memory of my father.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com