VET’S DIARY: Here’s to the next 25 years in the county

Well, it is 15 years since I came to Northumberland as a wet -behind-the-ears newly-qualified vet from Glasgow, writes Joe Henry.

It was September 1998 and after coming to, after a hedonistic summer celebrating passing of finals, my bank manager said I had to get a job sharpish.

I had wanted to stay in Scotland for my first job to be able to keep in touch with friends from university and, as a native of Derbyshire, naively had thought Scotland started at Newcastle.

It came as a bit of a shock when driving down to the interview in Alnwick that I crossed the border at Coldstream.

Luckily Colin Barwise-Munro had warned me about the proliferation of speed cameras on the A697 or it would have been a very expensive trip.

I was interviewed in the pub by David Young, Graeme Thirlwell and Colin.

I was even interviewed (interrogated!) by John Macfarlane over the phone afterwards and I was very pleased to be offered the job as I liked the partners and the other vets I had met: Lesley, Deborah and Lisa, and the area seemed great.

I was amazed I hadn’t heard of Northumberland before.

I started on September 19, and will always be grateful to David and Rosie Young for putting me up for the first few weeks while the Amble flat was altered.

It was brilliant to be able to talk through the day’s cases with David in the evening over some of Rosie’s great home cooking.

I went from feeling I knew a lot to agreeing with Ernest Hemmingway: ‘How little we know of what there is to know.’

Although I like all parts of mixed vet work, after a couple of years of mixed animal work I started to have a bias to farm animal.

Towards the end of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disaster we (my new Northumbrian girlfriend Rachel and I) decided to go to try out living in New Zealand.

My Alnwick leaving do was one of the best nights of my life with loads of farming client friends and colleagues wishing me all the best for the future. But after 18 months away we were back and now engaged.

The intervening years have seen changes to farm animal vetting with a further shift to population medicine and helping maximise farm output through disease prevention.

We have had to adapt to a big decrease in income from medicine sales and yet still provide 24-hour cover.

One of the ways of future proofing was the mergers with other local vet businesses which allowed us to become a stronger business able to recruit top vets.

Currently our least qualified farm vet has been graduated six-and-a-half years which speaks volumes and is not the picture nationwide.

My work is still predominately with the great beef and sheep farmers of Northumberland (a county that seems a lot more prominent nationwide than it used to) and the last 15 years have whizzed by, so here is to the next 25.




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