New role as a celebrant

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 30-Nov-2017

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Former dentist Mick Eaton is now a celebrant.
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There is a peculiar crossover in the skill sets for dentists and marriage celebrants, and in the explanation there is a great deal of hope.

Because the most nervous a person can be is probably before they go to the dentist, or on their wedding day.

The person who can calm them, and then perform a dental procedure or a marriage ceremony, should be confident, right? 

Well, what if that person has the use of only half of his body? 

Late in life, former Bendigo dentist Mick Eaton has decided on a career change.

He has just completed a year-long, part-time course to become a celebrant, marriages and funerals.

He retired about four years ago at age 56 from his Bendigo dentistry practice on McCrae Street. 

Mr Eaton practiced for the last seven years of his first career recovering from a stroke that struck in 2003 and paralysed the left side of his body.

Not a serious stroke, he will tell you, but serious enough that he lost the use of his left arm, and critical enough that he knew there was a genetic predisposition  when his brother suffered a more serious stroke five years later.

Mr Eaton freely admits that new patients to his clinic were always additionally nervous upon looking at him limping and with one arm hanging.

“I would be talking to them about footy or about their job and before they knew it they would forget I was drilling a hole in their tooth,” he said.

“I believe that can be transferred across to these ceremonies where there are a lot of nerves.

“Not just ‘I do”, there is also the legal stuff.”

Mr Eaton will tell you he has the gift of conversation, and notes his luck that the stroke did not affect his speech.

“I was asked by the Bendigo Dental Association many times over the last decade to get out there and tell people what I am doing in dentistry because it has never been done before,” he said.

“No one had ever had a stroke as severe as mine and returned to practice.

“Later, I did a few talks at Bendigo Health (in the rehabilitation unit) where I explained to professionals what to expect from patients.”

As he embarks on a career as a celebrant, the obvious conclusion becomes Mr Eaton can pick a growth business when he sees it, particularly given there will be a whole new set of people legally able to marry by Christmas.

Why a celebrant? He wants to make people feel comfortable and have fun.

“You really have to make the day memorable,” Mr Eaton said.

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