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Concert tribute to Lowestoft dentist who loved music

PUBLISHED: 13:09 15 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:09 15 February 2013

Popular dentist Dr David Johnson, who died in May 2012, will be remembered during an afternoon of classical and popular music. PICTURE: Library.

Popular dentist Dr David Johnson, who died in May 2012, will be remembered during an afternoon of classical and popular music. PICTURE: Library.

Archant

Few of us look forward to a trip to the dentist.

But a visit to David Johnson’s Lowestoft surgery was nearly always a pleasant experience.

As a lover of classical music, Dr Johnson helped create a calm and relaxing atmosphere for visitors to his surgery in High Street by playing the works of Elgar and other great composers.

For this reason, a free afternoon performance by the Blythe String Quartet has been organised to celebrate Dr Johnson’s life and his passion for music at St Mark’s Church Oulton Broad, on Sunday, March 3.

Donations made at the event will go to the British Heart Foundation.

Dr Johnson’s widow, Hazel, told The Journal: “I just thought it would be a nice afternoon to be able to reflect and remember David. He loved classical music and it was played in his surgery all day, every day.

“This is to be an uplifting afternoon – a very fitting way to celebrate his real love of classical music with some fabulous entertainment from the Blythe String Quartet.”

Dr Johnson, who died at his home in Oulton Broad on May 19 last year, spent 32 years working at the High Street dental surgery, winning praise for his friendly approach and professionalism.

In 2009, he launched a campaign to save his practice from closure after NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney put the contract out to tender. It gained huge public support, as more than 5,000 people signed petitions to back the surgery – reflecting the high regard he was held in by his patients and dental colleagues.

Although the campaign failed to save his practice, he went on to work at the dental surgery in Corton Road, Lowestoft, with many of his 7,000 patients electing to move there with him.

He worked at the surgery for two years up until his death, aged 72.

Poignantly, many of the pieces to be performed by the Blythe String Quartet were some of Dr Johnson’s favourites – and the musicians are all former Kirkley High School students who Mrs Johnson taught and he knew well.

The quartet, comprising violin players Liz Skinner and Richard Mace, James O’Toole on viola and cellist Debs Whomes, also played at Dr Johnson’s funeral. They got together in 2003 “mainly for fun” before they started playing four years later at events across East Anglia.

Mrs Johnson said: “They are a brilliant set of musicians. Debs worked for him and all the musicians knew David.”

Debs Whomes said: “David’s birthday was in March, so Hazel thought it would be a nice time to recognise him.

“I live in Norwich now, but all the other members are in Lowestoft still. I used to work at the High Street dental surgery and David was highly-regarded – he was always smiling. I hope that the church will be full and that people will come along to the event to remember David, making it a real celebration.”

The free afternoon of music on Sunday, March 3 starts at 3pm and is open to all. Light refreshments will be available.


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