BADN Chief Exec Pam Swain completes 20 years of service with the Association this year, making her the longest-serving Chief Executive of a dental professional association.

Pam started working for the ABDSA, as it was then, in August 1992 when the Association head office was a small room above a bank in Fleetwood.  “There was one desk which I shared with the two part time staff, a phone on the wall, a very primitive word editor (a sort of pre-computer) and a manual typewriter” said Pam. 

“We only had a few hundred members, which is just as well, because we sent out mailings by hand – folding, stuffing and licking stamps – after we’d typed out the envelopes! But this was already a huge advance – until the late 80s, the Association, the Exam Board and the Voluntary Register had all been run out of the same office by two ladies with three different coloured pens – blue for the Association, red for the Exam Board, green for the Register – and a box of index cards!”

Paula Sleight, who joined Council earlier in 1992, and who was President 1995-1997, remembers it well.  “At Council meetings, we all had to squeeze around a table in this tiny little meeting room.  Those at the top of the table couldn’t get out again until those at the bottom had left the room!

“Pam’s appointment made a huge difference to the Association.  She dragged us screaming, somewhat belatedly, into the 20th century and put the Association onto a much more businesslike footing, introducing a computer system, including a professional customized database management system; functional equipment like a franking machine and a proper telephone system; a proper membership benefits scheme; she re-organised Council meetings so that they ran much more efficiently; and revamped the Journal into the professional publication it is today.  That’s without mentioning what she did for Conferences!”

Joan Hatchard, BADN’s Finance Officer and a Conference attendee since the late 80s agrees.  “Pam’s efficiency and organization really made a difference to Conference.  Pam runs a very tight ship – everything is planned out to the last minute and smallest detail with contingency plans for almost everything.  In addition, her networking skills soon meant that she had persuaded top class speakers to appear at Conference and dental trade companies to sponsor it, making the BADN Conference a major event in dentistry.”

“Having an experienced “bureaucrat” (her word, not mine) at the helm made the Association much more professional” says Paula.  “Up until then, we’d had more in common with the WI or the Mothers Union than a professional association but Pam’s arrival changed all that.  The fact that she wasn’t a dental nurse herself and had no dental baggage meant that she wasn’t intimidated by dentists or by the larger institutions like the BDA and the GDC, and was prepared to say and do whatever necessary to represent dental nurses and to get their views across.”

Current BADN President Nicola Docherty also recognizes Pam’s contribution to BADN.  “I am sure all past Presidents will agree with me that the support offered by Pam and the office staff makes the Presidential term of office run much more smoothly.  We all draw extensively on Pam’s skills and  knowledge to get us through our two years”!

Pam was born in Fleetwood in 1958 and later attended Fleetwood Grammar School and Blackpool & Fylde College.  In 1976 she spent one year in Vienna, as an au pair and part time student at Vienna University studying “Deutsch für Ausländer”.  She worked briefly for the Home Office Research Unit in London and moved to Brussels in 1979, working for CPC Europe Ltd and at Hilton International’s European Office, in Personnel and then in Marketing.  From 1981 to 1987 she worked at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, both for the International Staff in the Electronic Warfare section and for the International Military Staff in the Operations Division.  Pam moved to Bermuda in 1987 where she worked in the Investment Department of the Bank of Bermuda, completing three quarters of the American Institute of Banking exams and evening courses in investment banking, effectiveness training and small business management.  In 1990 she took a year’s sabbatical in the US, training as a holistic therapist at the Massage Institute of New England in Boston, and obtaining the American Massage Therapy Association’s qualification.  Upon her return to the UK in 1991, Pam ran her own part time therapy business until her Association workload made that no longer possible.  More recently, she obtained a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Open University and a Licentiateship in Management from City & Guilds (LCGI).  She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Association Management (FIAM) and a Member of the Chartered Management Institute (MCMI).

As well as Chief Executive of BADN, Pam is Editor of the “British Dental Nurses’ Journal” and was Registrar of the Voluntary National Register until it closed in 2005.  Pam takes up the post of President of Blackpool & District Soroptimists in April 2012.