Sarah Cawkwell

A Day in the Life – by Sarah Cawkwell, age… somewhere in the higher numbers, let’s leave it there.

When Caroline approached me to write a ‘Day in the Life’ type article for the practice, I was:-

  • Confused, because my life is actually pretty dull;
  • Flattered, because I’d mentioned to Caroline during my last visit that I am a published science fiction and fantasy author and clearly this had made an impression;
  • Confused, because my life is actually pretty dull.
  • Did I mention confused?

At first, I had this ridiculous notion of presenting a Day in the Life of one of the characters from one of my books, but given that most of them are eight foot tall, heavily armoured Space Marines, I thought it might be a bit repetitive. To demonstrate:

0600 Monday – 2000 Sunday: Smite heretics in the Emperor’s name

2000 – 2100 Sunday: Watch ‘Call the Midwife’

2100 Sunday – 0600 Monday: Smiting continues.

So instead, here’s an actual day in my life. But be warned. The rock and roll lifestyle of an author can sometimes be exciting, but most of the time, it’s just… life.

0640 – What’s that incessant beeping, interrupting my dream about inflatable slides? No, alarm. No. Go away. Don’t wanna.

0710 – Drag self reluctantly from pit. Do breakfast. Do tea. Perform ablutions (yes, including the ritual Brushing of the Teeth. Nobody needs a night’s worth of tongue fuzz settling into place for the day).

0800 – Drive to work. Because alas, freelance authoring is not going to pay the bills. I work for the NHS, in Contracting and Income. It really is as dull as it sounds, so to spare you the details, I’ll just skip the actual work bit of it. Short version: spreadsheets, databases and bears, oh my. Only with less bears.

1630 – Drive home from work. I know. Exciting, right? Actually, I enjoy the drive to and from work. It’s rare time to myself when I contemplate the mysteries of the universe. Ponder the unanswerable. Things like ‘where does your lap go when you stand up?’ Or when I’m feeling REALLY daring, ‘why is every occurrence of the letter ‘C’ pronounced differently in ‘Pacific Ocean’?’ (Admit it: now YOU are wondering about that, too, right?)

Evenings – This is where the reality bites. If I’m writing a story, I settle down and make myself achieve the absolute minimum daily word count. I hold very much to the theory that for every bad day when I can barely eke out 1,000 words, I will have a blinder of an evening where I churn out 3,500. This theory has always worked and I learned, very early on in the process, not to push it. It builds resentment, resentment builds anger, anger builds stress and stress makes stomach acid that’s bad for your teeth (another dental reference, do I get points?)

I mostly do short stories these days, I wrote three novels back-to-back over the course of 18 months once and juggling that with full time work and raising a son almost made me implode with stress. See above.

The rest of the evening will pass in familiar fashion: The Husband™ will return from work, we will do the eating thing and then chill out in a variety of different ways. I love to read (when I’m not writing), but I’m also a self-confessed video game addict. It’s a good thing in a way: my son, who is presently away at university, also plays video games, so we frequently team up and spent quality time together destroying a variety of fictional universes while chatting. It’s an unconventional way to keep in touch, I know, but if it works, don’t shrug it off. Apparently when he went to university, he also lost his ability to communicate in any other way, so I chalk spending time with him in this way up as a win.

Every night one thing is absolutely the same. Around 11pm, I’ll say something to the effect of ‘going to have an early night tonight’.

I never do.

Usually roll into bed around midnight (after the evening homage to the Gods of Tooth Brushing). Sleep, rinse, repeat with little variation except for weekends, when my plans to have a bit of a lie-in are thwarted by a demanding cat.

So there you have it. A typical day, usually altered only by external factors such as traffic delays, chronic weather and computers refusing to cooperate.

How was YOUR day?

A Day in the Life of Richard Murray (Doting Grandad)

Today’s blog is written by one of our regular patients Richard, here he shares with us some fun times with his first grandchild!

Hi, I’m Richard, a retired teacher with a special school background and I have been a patient with Identity Dental  Care for ages.

Today is going to be a busy one as I am to see Gill and James one after the other this morning, starting at 9.30am.  I set off early, as I hate being late, which gave me the opportunity to pay the papers at the newsagents first. Having sorted the papers I popped into the dentist and was called in to see James straight away, as I was sufficiently early that I could be seen before my hygienist appointment was due. This worked well for me as I went in to see Gill at my appointed time and was all finished by 10.00am, my delight in finishing early was because our grandson was at our house for the day.


I know we go on about grandchildren, us grandparents, but I’m still in shock almost twenty months after his birth.  You know how it goes,  a grandparent is looking all chuffed and telling you that their grandchild is coming round for the day and you think, oh that’s nice, in a kind of indifferent way.  You’ve been told how it feels and you kind of believe it in a sort of half hearted way, and then they arrive!  Well it knocked me off my feet and I’m still recovering.

When I got home he was there and I was greeted with a beaming smile, a squeal and one of those cuddles, where they push their face into your legs and then go back to what they were doing.  I’d suggested that we go swimming and he’d come equipped with towel and trunks and some time later we set off with our daughter driving. We got to the Forum, paid our way in and bought some armbands. We had a lovely time and no tears at all despite the water going over his head and face a few times.  He particularly enjoyed riding on my back as I breast stroked my way around the deep end of the learner’s pool, painfully stubbing my toe on a raised grid that someone had thoughtfully put there.


Later, once we had got changed, we went home and I thought, in my innocence, that he might like a nap.  He’d had his mum up for three hours during the night and I fancied that he’d go out like a light when we got back.  Fat chance!  We washed our towels and costumes and with his help we got them on the line and mucked around in the garden for a bit. It was one of those breezy days when the washing dries and we played in the garden blowing bubbles, pushing his truck about, lots of giggles and screams, just good fun.

As I write, my phone has just bleeped to tell me a breaking news story has arrived.  Bradley Lowery has just passed away. What a little character he was, such a shame.


We went inside as a favourite CBeebies TV show is just starting, Waybuloo.  This was just the ticket as he snuggled up to his gran and in no time started fiddling with his hair, great sign! So we popped him into his pushchair and I set out on the walk that would hopefully see him dropping off to sleep.  We have a bit of a route that we walk round and usually, with a bit of judicious wiggling of the pushchair handle, the magic of sleep overcomes him and we get about two hours of R&R, rest and recovery. I walked on, shaking the pushchair gently and noting with delight that his lordships eyelids were looking decidedly heavy,  a short time later he went off.


In one garden that I pass I have noticed one of those blue plants that look a bit like a thistle with a flattened crown of leaves around it.  The man of the house was in the garden and I commented that his garden looked great.He said that it was something he enjoyed but he had trouble with the grass, as he couldn’t push the mower. His wife usually does it but unfortunately, she has been unwell and so his son comes round to do it for them.  Just then his smiling wife appeared and noting that the boss had arrived and caught him skiving I took my leave.  Nice chap, never spoken to him before, indeed I don’t think I’ve even seen him before, but the magic of gardens is always a great icebreaker.


We finished our walk and as the weather was nice we left his lordship in the back garden and got on with dinner.  I’d better re-phrase, our daughter got on with dinner and my wife helped.  Shortly afterwards some eggy bread or gypsy toast as I heard it called on an advert once, arrived hot and steaming, I had two slices and enjoyed them.  Once we were finished our daughter suggested that we go and get on with the refurbishment of an easel she had come across.  It had a hollow plastic frame with pieces of hardboard screwed to it.  One was painted with chalkboard paint and the other was covered with painted tinplate, so you can hold paper on with magnets.  At some time it had been left outside and although the plastic bits remained unharmed the hardboard had done what it always does when it gets wet and had swelled, warping as it did so.


I’ve got to give her, her due, she is my daughter alright and delights in having a go at practical work.  We marked out a new sheet of hardboard and she set to, with a tenon saw, to cut out the required rectangles. She struggled a bit but completed the job in good time and planed and sanded the edges. In the garage, as I write, there are two rectangles of hardboard.  One has the painted tinplate bonded to it with adhesive and the other, the chalkboard is nicely painted.  You are expecting black, and so was I, and so it was a shock when we opened the tin and it was a sort of red oxide colour.  I saw the tin chalkboard paint and so I grabbed it.  Our daughter patiently noted that it says red on the front of the tin and hadn’t I noticed. Actually, no I had, but it’ll make a nice change from the usual old thing.  We will finish it another day.

After another good run around in the garden, a few cuddles and an attempt by our grandson to pull the cushions off the settee to make a camp, they went off home.  Wimbledon is on the telly and despite my dislike of the game I’ve watched a bit, sort of disinterestedly.  Teatime came and went, Lasagne, very nice.


Around 7.00pm I went round to see a chap I worked with for a number of years.  He was my technician for quite a while, and we get on like a house on fire. I drove round and with me being in the car, we had a cup of tea.  There are places where elder statesmen like us meet and put the world to rights over a couple of hours.  If only the politicians would come by and listen, the country would not be in the mess it is in today.  I’m certain that there are elder stateswomen who think we talk a lot of tosh.  Possibly true, but it passes the time and if the company is good, what more do you need.  Actually a pint or two might make it a little better. I took my leave, promising to get in touch in a couple of weeks, to sort the world out again.


I got home and watched a bit of the QVC channel, which was on as I came in.  Now one thing about that channel makes me laugh and it’s not the models wandering up and down and twirling around, although that is quite funny. It’s those before and after make up shots, someone in one looking like they are suffering from goodness knows what and what looks like someone completely different in the next one, looking like they have just won the lottery.  Soon after that the news was turned on and then Question Time.

I could have enjoyed a good shout at the telly, over question time, but my wife had gone to bed,  such is life, and then it was my time for bed.


I like a read before I fall asleep and have been re-reading some Terry Pratchett books, which I enjoyed the first time around.  I gave it half and hour and that, as they say, was that.




Guest blogger – David Youngson shares his memoire “If only”

David has been researching World War One for over thirty years and is more than happy for people to contact him should they require information regarding relatives.



The anniversary of the events of World War One,  childhood memories of mine have come into focus.

 As a young boy I went shopping with my Granny, in the main street there sat a pavement artist.  I was fascinated to look at his work but also very curious as to why he had no legs.


Once a week a couple used to visit my Grandparents to play whist. The lady was extremely kind and always brought some sweets for me, the man was well built with a great sense of humour and when he laughed his face turned red and often bouts of coughing ensued.

 At the Grammar school there was a Form Master who taught English and was very severe with errant youths sparing no one from the cane, he had an artificial left leg. A Chemistry Master was easily distracted and told stories about his war time experiences. Our Headmaster had a scarred left cheek and a glass eye, which distracted you from his kindly smiling and understanding face.   As the pieces came together in later years I realised just how much I had missed. They had all served in the First World War.

 The pavement artist lost his legs on the Somme. I visited the kindly lady after the death of her husband, she confessed that they had always regarded me as the son they never had, he had been gassed during the First World War. The stern and bitter Form Master with the artificial leg and the Headmaster had also served in the conflict,  all of them had subsequently married and were childless.

Each had an individual story to tell but like their fallen comrades they were silent. As I continue my research I sometimes pause and say to myself, “If Only…..”


Revd David T. Youngson

Here at Identity Dental Care we have a great rapport with our patients and I often chat to them about what they are up to, they are always asking me how my running is going,  I’m currently injured so the least said the better!

It got me to thinking that I could invite some of our patients to produce a guest blog, it never ceases to surprise me some of the interesting jobs people have.

One of our patients has been attending for years and it was only last week when I casually mentioned “The Saatchi Gallery” that I discovered he was a very talented artist! So I took the bull by the horns and hey presto he is now our first guest blogger.

In the coming weeks I hope to introduce you to several more interesting people,  thanks again Bob for being our first virgin blogger!

Mr Bob Marshall 10/07/2017

I glanced at the clock on the bedside table, five fifteen in the morning!! Apparently when you are old you don’t need sleep, or so I am always being told, when I complain about lack of sleep. Well, I may not NEED it but I would certainly like to have what I consider my fair share. Yes, I know, a Victor Meldrew moment. Yawn. (See that proves it, I’m STILL tired!!!)

BUT, accepting the fact that six hours is all I am getting I wander downstairs to make a cup of tea. I glance out of the kitchen window and see that the woodpecker is hanging upside down on the nut feeder, having breakfast. ‘Morning Woody’ I mumble to myself and make a ‘nice’ cup of tea. I wonder why we say that? ‘I’m just going to make a nice cup of tea!’ as if we would deliberately make a bad one.


I had started a new painting a few days previously and it was still on the dining room table (My studio) ready to be worked on again. I had been to Madrid and had loved the city as a whole and in particular the galleries and the museums. As you would expect there was a great deal of religious art around and at first I must admit I walked past most of it looking for something more to my taste, but as time went by I became more interested and lingered longer at some of the better ones, admiring what they had been able to achieve all those hundreds of years ago.


At sometime during the holiday the seed was sown to paint Mary Magdalene once I returned home and indeed, a recently started Magdalene was what was laid upon the dining room table when I sauntered in to look at it.


I stood sipping tea and looking down at the painting there was something wrong with the right side of the hood she was wearing. I had been aware of this for a couple of days but couldn’t work out what it was. Perhaps it’s just a bad painting I thought, looking out of the window to see what the weather was doing. Raining. Summer, in England. According to the radio it was ‘baking hot’ in the south, but Billingham was lost under a sky the colour of ink. I sat down, picked up a paintbrush and stuck it between my teeth, the action of doing so reminded me that I had an appointment with the hygienist the next day. More pain, I thought to myself. (Which was totally unfair because she was very good and I don’t think I ever even felt a twinge of anything remotely close to pain. But I had a manly image to keep up so I was determined to make a fuss and had even considered crying to demonstrate how much pain I was suffering but was bravely soldiering on.) 


I started dabbing away at Magdalene, altering some colour here and an outline there. Hmmm, I thought I could see some improvement, so I continued, dab, dab, alter, dab. 


After a while I heard the post box rattle and looked up at the clock on the wall. 12-45!!!!!!! The morning had gone and much worse, my ‘nice’ cup of tea had gone cold. I stood up, stretched and wandered out to see what the postman had brought. It seems, I can get a huge discount on a new roof, just because ‘someone’ is working in my area. I put it in the bin for consideration later. I could also receive a huge payout for a car accident even if I wasn’t injured. It joined the new roof in the bin. My local supermarket had so many special offers on, they were almost giving things away. This was obviously going to be my lucky day, so I filed that in the bin too and decided it was time to shower and begin the day properly. Before I went to shower I decided to have another look to see how the painting had progressed. Strange the head now looked lopsided. I sat down, picked up a paint brush and stuck it between my teeth. Dab, dab, alter, alter. The phone rang, I glanced at the clock. 5 o’clock!!!!! The day had gone. I looked out of the window at a sky filled with rain, I walked out of the room and headed for my shower determined not to look back at the wobbly headed Magdalene.


A little while later, clean and ready to begin my day albeit in the early evening, sandwich in hand I stood looking at this weird apparition on my canvas. I’m sure it wasn’t this bad when I began my alterations this morning. I thought I could see what it was, so I stuck a paint brush between my teeth and sat down, dab, dab, alter, move, shift, shuffle, dab, stroke, alter, dab. Hmmm, I thought, it’s looking more like a woman and less like a gargoyle with a tea towel on it’s head. I began to feel thirsty and thought it was cup of tea time, so I stood up and stretched. Midnight?!?! Couldn’t possibly be!!! But it was. So flushed with success, ignoring the half sandwich with the curled up edges and denying myself a cup of tea I took myself off to bed. 


I glanced at the clock on the bedside table, five fifteen in the morning!! Apparently when you are old you don’t need sleep any more last night than you did the previous night. 


So accepting the fact that five and a quarter hours was all the sleep I was entitled to because I was old, I wander downstairs to make a cup of tea. I glance out of the kitchen window and see that the woodpecker is hanging upside down on the nut feeder, having breakfast. ‘Morning Woody’ I mumble to myself. Five minutes later I was stood sipping tea and gazing down upon Mary Magdalene, who seemed to have rediscovered a lopsided, demonic grimace and had taken to wearing, what looked like a soggy dishcloth, while I slept. I thought I could see what was wrong so I stuck a paint brush in between my teeth and . . . . . . . . . . !


Anyone interested in seeing Magdalene can find it in my dustbin under an offer for half price roofing, a promise to win me thousands of pounds in a settlement for an accident I never had and food that can be purchased for less money than it takes to grow from my local supermarket.


Amyone interested in seeing some of the few paintings that DIDN’T end up in the bin can find them on my blog, (Even though it appears that I have a blog, I still have no idea what it is! So approach it with caution.)







Meet the team- Prab

Originally from Leeds, I am currently studying at Teesside University with the aim of becoming a Dental Therapist.

The first stepping stone for me was to join the team at Identity Dental Care; they have laid the foundation for the success of my professional career. I have enjoyed learning from the caring staff and patients and will surely miss them all when I finish my training later this year.

Outside of work I enjoy playing football (I am a life-long Manchester United Fan!) and spend most of my spare time studying and working out at the local gym.

We will be sad to see Prab go, he has been a great asset to the team and we will miss dearly, we wish him all the best in his future career.



Meet the team- Gill

The seed was planted for me to join the dental profession many years ago!

I was lucky enough to be living in Germany and went to a military school that organised work experience in a dental surgery. I worked with an Army dentist who inspired me greatly and from there on I knew it was the path for me.

I have worked as a Dental Hygienist at many dental practices in the North East and Teesside, having been at Identity Dental Care for the last 13 years. 

Lots of fabulous opportunities have come my way and I’m a great believer in grabbing every single one!

This has led me to become an Ambassador for’ The Heart Your Smile’ Charity where I supported other Dental Hygienists to organise outreach programs in their communities, hence improving awareness of good dental health.

I am hugely passionate about raising awareness of good dental health, especially with ‘At Risk’ groups  such as people with diabetes. I have enjoyed lecturing and engaging with our local Diabetes Nurses Study Group, and talking at North Tees Hospital to type 1 patients. I attended the Diabetes UK conference where my Diabetes team, which included a London based Diabetologist, received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Diabetes Care & Research 2014.

My proudest point in my career to date was winning ‘Hygienist of the Year’ at the national Dental Awards in 2016.

 When I’m not looking at gums I can be found searching for my next challenge…Skydiving for charity was my last one, that’ll take some beating!







Meet the team- Gemma



I began my Dental Nursing journey in 2006 after completing my education and have worked at several practices since then. I have worked both on reception and in surgery having achieved several certificates along the way including Oral Health Education, Radiography, BTEC Business Admin and Customer Service.


I have been part of the Identity Team since September 2016 and have now become a fully-fledged member. I work mainly in surgery now and I am a great supporter of Facial Aesthetics and Teeth Whitening, this lead to me promoting these particular treatments at our local Wedding Fairs.


Outside of work I’m usually socialising with friends and family planning our next big getaway. I have an endless list of countries that I wish to visit and as I’m about to hit the big 30 we are off to Vegas to party in style!

( Gemma is the one with the dazzling white smile, feel free to ask her secret!)


Meet the team – Saba Razaq

I started my Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing when I was 17 years old, studying at Shape Training in Middlesbrough. Dentistry is a small world and coincidentally my tutor ‘Caroline’ is also now my manager, so she knew my capabilities as a student!

I have been working at the practice for 4 years and have recently been promoted to Lead Dental Nurse which I am very excited about, it is a very interesting time for me.  I recently completed a Customer Service course and I am now studying Team Leading, hopefully I will learn additional skills to support my new role.

I love being a part of the Identity family, being the youngest I am well looked after and loved. The best aspect of my job is helping everyone around me including patients and staff (I’m usually the call for help when there are any computer issues which is where my nickname ‘techie dude’ came from).

When I’m not at work you will usually find me at the cinema watching the latest horror movie… unless I’m in the kitchen being forced to become a domestic goddess like my mum.







Meet the team – Kirsten Bridgman BDS MFGDP (uk)

I’m married to James and work in the practice on a Friday; this allows James to be elsewhere teaching, catching up on paperwork or bird watching!

I qualified at Newcastle University, where I met James and where I also worked for a time as a locum in the Children’s Dental Health Department of the Dental hospital.

I moved to Teesside, completed a MFGDP Diploma and worked as a trainer mentoring newly qualified dentists. James and I married in 2005 and have 2 daughters Isabel and Malin.

When I’m not at work I enjoy walking in North Yorkshire and Northumberland, gardening and spending time with the family. When I get the chance I also enjoy going to the cinema and meeting friends for dinner (without washing up, what a treat!) 




Meet the team – Caroline Kelly

Here at  Identity Dental Care we are often  asked “What makes Identity Individual Dental Care in Billingham special”?

For us, it’s easy, it’s not the state of the art technology we invest in or even the wonderful aroma of ground coffee that wafts through the air to meet you in reception.

It has to be our wonderfully diverse team of dentists, hygienists, manager and nurses that makes up our dental team.

So what’s so different about the team at Identity? We pride ourselves on having the personal touch, we know our patients individually and they know us, each one of our team brings their own special qualities to the mix!

Throughout the coming weeks the team would like to introduce themselves to you, starting with our Practice Manager/Receptionist , Caroline Kelly.

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“As some of you may be aware  I originate from the Highlands of Scotland but have lived in Teesside since 1987. Having worked as dental nurse for 9 years I then left the profession to raise a family. I have seen many changes over the years through working both in NHS and private practices. I can still remember my first day as a trainee, I felt extremely overwhelmed and shocked at the dental health of some of the patients I saw! We  held three General Anaesthetic clinics per week and many of the patients were in their 20’s having full mouth clearances! The lack of fluoride in the water meant that children were regularly given drops to compensate. Living in the remote Highlands I can see now that we did live in our own little bubble, although ask me if I would return? Yes, most definitely, well at least for my retirement, not to mention the amazing scenery!

I worked at this practice as a Dental Nurse for just over 2 years, however in 2010, just prior to James buying the practice,  I was given a new opportunity to become a Trainer/Assessor with Shape Training in Middlesbrough, a role I thoroughly enjoyed and excelled in. I was then offered a new appointment here in August 2014 which I duly accepted.

My role here at Identity Dental Care has recently evolved into Management, another aspect of the Dental World that I am currently getting to grips with and enjoying. I am quite happy to take a back seat from working in surgery, but I feel that my  past experiences will contribute greatly as I mature in my new position. The staff are a great bunch and we all work well together to make the practice the happy place that it is!

Personally I am quite a creative person, I love to rustle up some culinary delights in my kitchen and enjoy upcycling furniture,  more recently I have taken up running by joining the Billingham Harriers, I will keep you updated on that one!

Thanks for reading!