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Manchester High School for Girls

Julia Payne

Julia Payne, Class of 1981, is a Principal Dentist and Practice Owner – 207 Dental Care.

What was your experience at Manchester High like?

Manchester High provided me with a secure, supportive encouraging environment. I attended Manchester High from the age of four years old until I was eighteen – a complete Manchester High product! I can honestly say that I loved going to school. I was motivated to give 100% effort in everything I did and I packed every spare moment with extra-curricular activities including swimming, hockey, gymnastics, orchestra, piano and violin.


How do you feel it helped to shape the person you are today?

I think it made me confident and helped me to believe that I could achieve anything I wanted to, if I put my mind to it.


Were there any teachers who made a particular impression on you?

Miss Pratt was simply the best maths teacher, she explained things so well and made maths fun!

Miss Kilgarriff was my inspirational P.E teacher.  She also ran the school swimming team, of which I was a member. She took us to the English Schools swimming finals in Whitby and Lincoln, giving up her spare time in the evenings and weekends for the good of the team.


Are you still in touch with anyone from your time at School?

I am very much in touch with a large number of girls from my year. I recently organised a reunion for around 20 girls and there will be more in the future. We all love getting together and catching up – lots of reminiscing, love and laughter!


What did you do after Manchester High?

After I left Manchester High I went straight to Bristol University and studied dentistry. After qualification, I had a fabulous time working as a guide in a ski resort for a season. My father then gently nudged me and advised me that I ought to come home now and get a proper job!

I initially worked as an associate dentist for five years and then joined my father in the family practice in 1990 on King Street in the city centre of Manchester.

In 1999 my father retired and I relocated the practice a short distance away onto Deansgate, near the developing Spinningfields area. Under my leadership, the practice thrived and expanded to employ three dentists and three hygienists.In 1993 I diversified and worked as an expert witness in my spare time. I formed a company to provide the service to solicitors and qualified as a practising member of the Academy of Experts. The work entails examining patients and records and then preparing a report for solicitors with regard to personal injury or clinical negligence.

Finally in July 2019, I sold the practice and I am now happily semi-retired. I still work there two days a week which I really enjoy but now I have time to engage in lots of hobbies and other pastimes.


What has been the highlight of your career?

Single-handedly owning and growing a successful dental practice.


What advice would you give to girls considering your career?

It’s a great career. It’s challenging, interesting and varied. It’s quite stressful at times but very rewarding. It can also be very flexible, which is helpful when you are trying to raise a family.


Who are the inspirational figures in your life?

My parents.


What are your ambitions for the future?

I intend to travel abroad to Africa to provide dental treatment and dental education to people in impoverished areas. I want to be able to give my time and skills to those in need.

I also want to make the most of my retirement and pack it full of the things that I enjoy doing and to spend more time with my family and friends.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have always loved participating in sports such as water-skiing, snow-skiing, badminton, swimming and also like to keep myself fit at the gym, with a personal trainer.

Five years ago I took up clay pigeon shooting and joined a ladies shooting league. I shoot most weekends and regularly enter competitions.

More recently I have joined a choir and taken up campanology – bell-ringing, in the local church, which is a skill that is dying out. I love new challenges.


What achievements are you most proud of in life?

Successfully building up and running a dental practice and a medico-legal company whilst raising two beautiful daughters.