Horsham's Ross Barnes retires after 32 years

HORSHAM dentist Ross Barnes has hung up the drill after more than 32 years of improving the Wimmera's dental health.

"It's a mixture of sadness and relief I suppose - it's been a good journey," he said.

Dr Barnes moved to Horsham from Ballarat after completing university in 1982.

After working at a private practice and part-time at Wimmera Base Hospital, Dr Barnes bought into the practice in 1996.

Dr Barnes said he left a long career satisfied Horsham's dental health was in a better state than when he arrived.

"The biggest highlight was getting fluoride in the water supply in Horsham," he said.

Dr Barnes waged a long campaign to overcome opposition to fluoride in 2005.

"Since that time I've noticed a vast improvement in the teeth of Horsham's children," he said.

"When I first started here I used to do theatre in the hospital and you would see six or eight children a month where you'd be taking out large numbers of bad teeth.

"Now it's probably one every three months.

"That's my proudest achievement."

He said towns such as Warracknabeal, Stawell and Nhill would benefit from fluoride being added to their drinking water.

While many people often look at retirement as a move to greener pastures, Dr Barnes will take the sentiment literally as he transitions to his new career as a farmer.

On his Grass Flat property, Dr Barnes will now farm crops and raise sheep and lambs on a full-time basis.

"I bought the farm in 1989 and I've been working towards increasing the size of the farm with the aim of farming full-time before I was too old," he said.

He said he looked forward to spending more time in the fresh air growing crops through the changing seasons.

Dr Barnes admitted even he was an anxious visitor to the dentist.

"It is a fairly stressful job - you don't get many people who are happy to see you," he said.

Dr Barnes said he looked forward to running into people around Horsham whom he had built relationships with through his work.

"I'll miss patients and the staff I've been working with," he said.

"My thanks go to the loyal staff and patients over the past 32 years."

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