Obituary: Professor Jimmy Steele

Professor Jimmy Steele

With great sadness we mark the passing of Jimmy Steele, who left us on 16th November 2017.

Jimmy’s list of achievements in oral health was immense.  As well as being Head of School in the School of Dental Sciences in Newcastle University, he was a senior member of the consortium working with the Office for National Statistics on four national Adult and Child Dental Health Surveys.  Jimmy was the founding chair of the NIHR Oral and Dental Specialty Research group, ensuring that the NHS provided a good infrastructure for oral research. Professionally, he was best known for leading the 2009 Independent Review of NHS Dentistry, subsequently called the Steele Review. That review has formed the basis of the current reforms, being carefully introduced through a series of successful pilots and prototypes.

This work was recognised within and beyond dentistry.  Jimmy was made a CBE for services to Dentistry and Oral Health in 2012 and awarded the BDA’s John Tomes Medal in 2016 for scientific eminence related to dentistry. 

Those of us who knew Jimmy marveled at his tireless and infectious enthusiasm. He was a committed naturalist and sat on the British Birds Rarities Committee, assessing claims for rare bird sightings for nine years. A famously excellent cook, he gathered mushrooms and would offer advice on purchasing fresh fish at the drop of a hat. His external examining visits were often marked by a gift of his home-cured gravlax.  He was particularly proud of his two lobster pots.

Our thoughts are with Jimmy and his wife and children.

17 November 2017