Bert Aldridge: 1926-2024

Bert Aldridge, founder of the Orthodontic Technicians Association (OTA), has died at the age of 97.

‘Greatly missed’: Bert Aldridge, founder of the Orthodontic Technicians Association (OTA), has died at the age of 97.

Albert Edward Aldridge, known as Bert, was born on 11 November 1926 and trained at the Eastman Dental Hospital where he gained experience in all fields of dental mechanics, as dental technology was then called. He joined the Hospital for Sick Children, now Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), on 5 July 1948, the day the National Health Service (NHS) was launched.

Bert predominantly worked in orthodontics but also constructed appliances such as auricular prostheses and hand splints for patients with epidermolysis bullosa. He also established a study model storage system that remains in use today.

In addition to his hospital post, Bert was a lecturer and examiner for the advanced City & Guilds certificate at South London Technical College (now Lambeth College) which, at this time, was in Tooley Street near Tower Bridge. Bert lectured on fixed appliances while fellow lecturer Len Bradshaw, his counterpart at King’s College Dental School, instructed on removable appliances. They discussed the possibility of forming an association for orthodontic technicians and, in 1971, Bert wrote to orthodontic technicians employed by London teaching hospitals, inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss the idea.

‘Greatly missed’

The first meeting of what would become the OTA was held at 6pm on 11 October 1971 at the Hospital for Sick Children. The thirteen orthodontic technicians who attended agreed that such an association should be formed. A steering committee was organised, and Bert became the first secretary, later becoming chairman. In 1972, further meetings were held and the constitution was written. In 1973, the first conference was held at University College Hospital Dental School.

Bert retired from his role as senior chief dental technician on 31 July 1989 after 41 years at GOSH, but returned on a part-time basis. The following year, he was awarded the first Fellowship of the OTA by then president David Di Biase.

In 2007, the Aldridge Medal was introduced, which is awarded to the best OTA conference lecturer each year, as voted for by the delegates.

Bert said he was ‘very honoured to have an award named after me and I hope it will encourage members to give lectures at future conferences’.

Bert enjoyed many activities during his long retirement, including lawn bowls, watercolour painting – until his hands got too shaky – and gardening. He still had a wonderful display of brightly flowering pots last summer. Bert also enjoyed bridge which he last played in January this year.

He was also an avid reader, especially historical fiction, and was a lifelong Arsenal supporter.

Bert married Lilias on 28 March 1953 and they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year. He passed away in the early hours of their 71st wedding anniversary, aged 97. He will be greatly missed by his wife, daughter Sue, son Graham, grandson Josh, granddaughter Zoe, daughter-in-law Wendy and his wider family and many friends.

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