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Monday, 19 February 2018
A HENLEY dentist has retired after practising in the town for 27 years.
Paul Stuart-Bennett, who joined the Courtrai House dental surgery in Reading Road in 1990, stepped down on Friday in order to devote more time to his lifelong passion for rowing.
The 64-year-old, who lives in St Andrew’s Road with his wife Louise, is a member of both Leander Club and Upper Thames Rowing Club and is a former captain of the latter.
Last year he was part of an Upper Thames coxless four which won gold in the G category at the Henley Masters’ Regatta and again at the Veteran Fours Head of the River.
He and a fellow club member were also part of a mixed eight that came second in last year’s Head of the Charles race in Boston.
The crew included six-time British world champion Dame Katherine Grainger, who won gold in the double sculls at the 2012 Olympics. Mr Stuart-Bennett grew up in Chiswick and Kingston-upon-Thames and became interested in rowing while at school.
He studied dentistry at Guy’s Hospital and rowed for the University of London during this time.
He also represented Kingston Rowing Club and met his wife, then a trainee midwife, at a social event at Kingston Hospital.
The couple married in Edinburgh, where Mrs Stuart-Bennett grew up, in 1974 and moved there in 1979.
They moved to Henley in 1982 because they wanted to return to England and Mr Stuart-Bennett had happy memories of competing at Henley Royal Regatta, where he won the Stewards’ Challenge Cup in 1973 and the Thames Challenge Cup in 1977. He worked at a dental practice in Reading for eight years before becoming a joint partner at Courtrai House following a chance meeting with Richard Parham, another partner with whom he trained at Guy’s.
The pair were both queueing for their Christmas turkey outside Gabriel Machin in Market Place when Mr Parham told him there was an opening.
They ran the surgery with fellow partner Nick Coleman until Mr Parham retired in 2010 and Portman Healthcare took over. Mr Coleman retired shortly afterwards.
Mr Stuart-Bennett and his wife have three grown-up sons, Christopher, Leo and Joshua, and two grandchildren, Louis, five, and eight-month-old India.
He says he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and on his hobby of singing with the Shiplake Community Choir and the Henley Choral Society. Mr Stuart-Bennett said: “I’ve loved being a part of the community and having the opportunity to care for so many patients, including many personal friends.
“I think all that anyone wants to do in life is to help others and I’ve been fortunate to have the skills to do so.
“I’ve also been overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill that’s followed my announcement — I think people are pleased for me but also a bit upset that I’m retiring.
“We had a wine and cheese party at the practice last week and the surgery was absolutely packed with patients. It really was standing room only.
“I’ve stayed so long at the surgery because there’s a wonderful atmosphere, the staff are brilliant and, of course it’s very convenient as it’s only a five-minute walk from my house!
“I shall miss the cameraderie but I will have plenty of things to fill my time.”
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