'Lucky' dental nurse Debbie marks 40 years of service

Debbie Lawrence and Thomas Norfolk of St Mary's Dental Practice Ely

Debbie Lawrence (left) has worked at St Mary's Dental Practice in Ely for 40 years. Pictured is Debbie with Thomas Norfolk, owner of the practice. - Credit: St Mary's Dental Practice

A dental nurse who has been serving patients for 40 years says she is “lucky to find the job I love” after marking her anniversary. 

Debbie Lawrence joined St Mary’s Dental Practice in Ely on September 6, 1981 under the eye of former owner Warren Trotter, who was looking for a dental nurse. 

Debbie, who joined the practice straight from school, saw a change of ownership and name after Mr Trotter sold the business, but she stayed loyal. 

“I still find it very rewarding,” she said. 

“I have been so lucky to find the job I love, starting from school and made some lifelong friends.” 

It is thought Debbie has worked under four different owners during her time at St Mary’s and has dealt with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, too. 

One memory that does stand out is when she and Mr Trotter had been asked by a patient working at Marshall Aerospace in Cambridge to sort a chipped sink on the Emir of Bahrain’s aircraft. 

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“Around 20 years ago, the patient asked if we could go over and put a white filling in the sink.   

“The filling looked like a squashed fly, but apparently the Emir was so impressed after filling the sink in, he decided he didn’t want the sink replaced.” 

Speaking on Debbie’s time at the practice, Mr Trotter said “she is a great nurse”. 

Laura Hendry, practice manager at St Mary’s, praised Debbie for her efforts over the years. 

“Nothing is ever too much trouble even if it's a case of coming in during an evening or weekend to see emergency patients needing care,” she said. 

“Debbie has always said she loves her job and we hope she stays with us for many years more.” 

Debbie, 56, intends to stay on as a dental nurse while also filling in as a receptionist under the ownership of Thomas Norfolk and Nicola Herrington. 

Her daughter also works at the practice and Debbie has received praise from residents on social media for her achievement. 

“My life has never been boring,” Debbie added.  

“As far as I was concerned, I just do my job and I’m really moved by everything that everyone has been saying.   

“I love meeting people and I have been so lucky with my work.”