A rare individual, who brought happiness to everyone with whom he came into contact, Derek Scott, who has died aged 88, was a dentist with an upbeat chairside manner, a lecturer on popular music and entertainment and the voice of talking books and JC issues for the blind.
With a beautiful speaking voice and great dramatic talent, Derek could have had a career as an actor or broadcaster, but spent his working life as a dentist.
However, on retiring in 1993, and building on his years of volunteer work for Jewish and other charities, he developed a second career volunteering for the University of the Third Age (U3A) in London, organising their afternoon walks and morning talks, and exploring places of interest in London. He eventually became one of their favourite speakers.
Derek was the second of three children of Max and Gertude Scott.
Educated at Parmiter’s School, Bethnal Green, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but after two terms was conscripted in 1946. While on national service he became engaged to Ruth Lynn.
He had to decide whether to pursue a stage career or find a more serious way of supporting his future wife. Derek had enormous admiration for George Bernard Shaw, and wrote to him requesting his advice: drama or dentistry.
The great man of letters replied on a postcard: “Be a dentist and practise the arts in your leisure time.” So Derek started at Guy’s Hospital in 1950 and qualified in 1955. He married Ruth in 1951 and she became his dental nurse. Their London practice was a favourite with West End entertainers and broadcasters, and the BBC. He built up an enormous collection and encyclopaedic knowledge of 20th century popular music and entertainment, with a huge collection of reel-to-reel tapes and theatre programmes.
While working as a dentist he read over 300 books for the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). On retiring, Ruth and Derek continued volunteering for RNIB,Jewish Care and U3A, helping organise its Easter conferences. He also lectured, illustrating topics from the Enlightenment to the history of London with early 20th century musical hits. His knowledge of Jewish songwriters such as Irving Berlin, was unrivalled. He is survived by Ruth, his niece and nephews Jonathan, Judith and Jeremy Lynn and extended family.
Derek Scott: born London, September 13, 1928. Died April 5, 2017