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Professor John Radford


Professor John Radford, Professor of Restorative Dentistry at Cardiff Dental School died suddenly and tragically on Sunday 20 November 2022, aged 68, after enjoying his last game of golf and on his way to go “Castle Bagging” in his new-found locality of Cardiff.

John was a superb clinician and dental educator to all members of the dental profession but he was so much more than that. He was an inspirational motivator who rejoiced in his students’ success, and possessed the empathy to remotivate and encourage after setbacks.

John was born in Birmingham in 1953 and moved to Brighton in 1956. After training at Guys Dental Hospital, University of London (BDS, 1976), he gained the prestigious house job in the Department of Periodontology and Preventative Dentistry leading to an SHO job in Oral Surgery at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. He then returned to Guys as a Registrar in Conservative Dentistry. John was a meticulous dentist and skilful clinician but was always drawn to teaching, given his ability to break down difficult concepts.

He undertook his PhD at the Royal College of Surgeons Research Unit at Downe, Kent, and completed his thesis entitled “The Influence on Diet of Dental Plaque on the incisor teeth of monkeys (Macaca fascicurlars)” in 1987. Having enjoyed Lecturer positions at Bristol Dental School and then at UMDS, John gained a Senior Clinical Lectureship with Consultant Status in Dundee Dental School in 1992, before being promoted to Clinical Reader in 2018, and gaining a personal Chair in Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry in 2021.

In October 2021, John embarked on an exciting new challenge, and relocated to Wales to join Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry. He joined some much-loved former colleagues that he had worked with at the University of Dundee, and met a wealth of new colleagues and students, whom he would inspire with his infectious energy and enthusiasm. Within a very short time John became a loved member of the team, and a good friend and mentor to many. It was clear that he embraced his job, his role as a leader, and felt he had made a new home in Wales, joining Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.

Supporting undergraduate and postgraduate learning, John taught across the restorative dentistry subdisciplines, healthcare law, and professionalism. His outstanding collaborative teaching abilities, extensive expertise in restorative dentistry, and his deeply empathic care of patients have left a mark on the hundreds of students he taught, the colleagues he worked with and the patients he cared for.

Despite following such a conventional academic route in a profession which likes to have a “right” or “wrong” answer, John was unafraid of embracing controversy and uncertainty. His drive to develop the profession through thought and critical thinking was at the heart of his teaching, which has inspired generations of dental professionals over the years to not just accept what they read and hear, but to think about information they are presented with and make their own judgements.

In June 2022, John was appointed as Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies, and he focused on reshaping and building the delivery of postgraduate teaching. John had ambitious, promising plans for his time in this role that reflected his undeniable dedication to ensuring that students received the best possible experience, and graduate as confident, compassionate dental professionals. This legacy will be continued.

John was also Honorary Tutor at the University of Ghana Dental School in Accra, Ghana over the years, supporting the growth and development of dentists and dentistry there. He actively contributed to the Profession more widely, serving for 10 years as a Fitness to Practice Panel Member for the General Dental Council.

For over nine years he edited the British Dental Journal’s “Other Journals in Brief” synthesising, evaluating, and abstracting over 800 papers, giving them his unique spin. This helped make wider evidence and information on oral and dental health accessible for dentists in topics they otherwise would not have come across and made John one of the most well-read people in the world of dentistry.

John lived life to the full and put 100% into everything he did be it Frisbee, running, extensive (and extreme) cooking, bread baking, football, and he was an excellent golfer. He extended so much hospitality to his colleagues and students who enjoyed his sincere conviviality and generosity.

At the end of February of this year, John was posthumously awarded the Guys, RDH, Kings Medical and Dental and Kings College London alumni award which was accepted for him by David Radford, John’s brother and Tom Radford, his son.

John was a great family man and leaves behind his wife Frances, his children Daisy and Tom and grandchildren, Lachlan and Adeline.

David R Radford, Thomas H Radford, Nicola Innes