Driving home for Christmas – dental nurse surprised with plane ticket to see family

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Driving home for Christmas – dental nurse surprised with plane ticket to see family 1

©Julia Claxton

A dental nurse was gifted a surprise plane ticket by her colleagues to visit her family over Christmas.

Kitija Jaksta, lead dental nurse at Dental Health Spa, was prepared for a quiet Christmas in Brighton this festive season.

But during the secret santa exchange at the staff Christmas celebration, staff surprised her with a plane ticket to Latvia so she could spend the holidays with her family.

It has been two years since Kitija – also known as Kitty – has celebrated Christmas in her home village of Sermīte. She had not planned to fly home this year due to financial reasons and a lack of annual leave.

Max and Kitty

Tears from everyone

Organised by clinical director Christina Chatfield and commercial director Caroline Oram, Christina described the emotional moment they unveiled the big surprise.

‘I gave all my staff secret santa presents – Kitty opened hers and it was a Swarovski s snowflake ornament for her tree,’ she said.

‘But I said “oh my god, I’m so sorry Kitty” as she doesn’t have a tree up at home. But I said maybe there’s something on the tree downstairs. We all went down and hanging there was a big gold star. Inside it, it read: “You’re going home for Christmas.”

‘There were tears from all of us.’

Christina says the gift was a way of giving back the hard work Kitty has put into her role.

Kitty left Latvia after the European market collapsed and she could no longer afford her law degree. She headed over to the UK and became a mushroom picker near Yeovil, working hard to become the best and save money.

She moved into a housekeeping role and then worked as a hotel supervisor in Brighton for four to five years. Finally she was taken on as an apprentice dental nurse in November 2015.

©Julia Claxton
© Julia Claxton

Value in staff

Christina says taking on apprentices is a great opportunity for both the practice and employee and has employed many over the years. Steven Scannell, now a hygienist at her practice, was offered the chance to work at the practice while he trained at the University of Essex.

‘One of the things I’ve learnt along my journey in dentistry is that some people put so much into dentistry and some people don’t. Kitty puts 110% into the job,’ said Christina.

‘The value we place on apprentices is a two-way relationship. Taking on a trainee is a task in terms of management and commitment from everyone. It is not a way for cheap labour but rather a great career pathway for the right practice, team and student.

‘I took on three new apprentices this year and one in 2020. One was called Max and gave up his job as he desperately wanted to be doing hygiene. He moved from Guildford to Henfield to live with his girlfriend’s parents and got the bus here every day.’

However Max never started his apprenticeship properly as, after three months at the practice, Portsmouth University offered him a place on its dental therapy course.

Christina has another staff member, Chevonne, about to finish her apprenticeship, Molly who has just started hers and Amelia, who will begin hers in three months’ time.


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