A FAMILY dentist has made good on a promise made to a sports-mad schoolboy 14 years ago - by buying a toothbrush for every child at his former school.
Dentist Paddy Jones made the wager with a young John Baines - then a keen runner - that he would buy every pupil a toothbrush if he ever managed to represent Great Britain in the Olympics.
And today (Friday, March 21) it was pay-off time for Mr Jones after John Baines, originally of Ormesby, Middlesbrough, represented his country in both the four-man and two-man bobsleigh teams at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The dentist originally wanted to have the toothbrushes engraved with the Olympian's name but that proved impossible.
In the end, he bought brushes for all 406 current pupils at Ormesby Primary School and also 500 pens bearing John's name.
Both Mr Baines and Mr Jones presented the pens and brushes to the children.
Mr Baines, 28, an ICT technician in the RAF who now lives in the Thirsk area, said: “It was quite emotional. I hadn’t been back since and to see the classrooms and the teachers was quite something.
"I remember Mr Jones’ promise now, but I’d forgotten when I was selected for the Olympics.
"You don’t think, ‘I’m in the Great Britain team, great, I’ve got the toothbrushes.’ It was Mr Jones who came through and reminded me and it is fantastic of him.”
Mr Jones, of Marton Dental Practice, explained he was inspired by a story he read about how another dentist, Dr Ted Aspes, in the USA who had promised he would give every child in the town of Smyrna, Georgia, a tube of toothpaste if any of the children won a major national award.
Some 26 years later, in 2001, actress Julia Roberts who hailed from the town won an Oscar for her role in the film Erin Brockovich and Dr Aspes bought 10,000 tubes of paste to give away.
Mr Jones, dentist to the Baines family for 28 years, said: “John will have been 14 when I made the promise. I never forgot but a couple of years ago, when it was obvious John was doing very well, I thought, ‘oh , blimey, this is going to happen!’”
Headteacher, Tracy Clarvis, said: “John won our sports award when he was at the school and today we could show the children the trophy and say, ‘see, with self-belief and hard-work you can achieve anything.’”
The brushes and pens cost about £500.
Another former pupil of the school, Aimee Willmott, represented Great Britain as a 400m swimmer in the 2012 Summer Olympics.