Thieves steal copper plaque dedicated to Leith dentist

Townsend Dental Practice staff and the missing plaque
Townsend Dental Practice staff and the missing plaque

A DEVASTATED dentist has told how thieves snatched a copper plate from her surgery doorway dedicated to her late dad and business partner.

The plaque to Frederick Allan Townsend was levered off the wall of Townsend Dental Practice in Ferry Road last Wednesday night.

Now daughter and surgery owner Kirsten Townsend has appealed for help in tracking down the sentimental keepsake.

“A patient was commenting on the fact that she “loved seeing” Dad’s plate still at the door. I said that I really ought to take it down but she said not to,” said Kirsten, 64.

“I was very sad to learn that it had been stolen and my mother has been particularly distressed by the event.

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 in attending patients in the surgery, Mr Townsend enjoyed “an encyclopaedic knowledge” of airplanes 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.

“The copper plate was 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,” said Kirsten.

“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.”

Police are investigating and anyone with information can contact officers on 101 quoting incident 761 of Thursday May 17 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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