20 years ago this week, a fresh faced young Veterinary Graduate from Glasgow University set off from his family home in a village outside Edinburgh to start his first job at the then “Donaldson and Partners”. He packed all his possessions (mostly Veterinary text books) and set off down the A1 to a town where he knew absolutely no one.
When he arrived at the Donaldson’s surgery at Maple Street, he was met by Partner Mick Hancock who gave him the keys to his brand new Ford Escort and the rented cottage in Skelmanthorpe that the Practice had arranged for him and so, with a new car, house and job all within a 24 hour period, 15 years of school and University study ended and my professional working life began.
On the same day, 20 years ago, a trainee Vet Nurse called Rachel Booth also started work at Donaldson’s.
In those days, the work split was roughly 50% farm and equine, 50% small animal. I was attracted to Huddersfield by the mixed urban and rural demographic which allowed for lots of exposure to all species. Donaldsons Vets was run from only the one surgery at Maple Street (although the Practice had bought the building at Miry Lane, Thongsbridge and were converting it from a carpet shop into a surgery).
I was recruited as an additional vet, bringing the total up to 8 and I did a very mixed job with much of my time being spent out on farm. Even just 20 years ago, the dairy industry was very different to the industry it is now with lots of little farms often still milking cows in a byre. Sadly, many of those smaller farms are no longer in existence but they have been replaced by the large, professionally run and managed dairy herds we serve today.
Thongsbridge surgery opened about 6 months after I joined the Practice and I became a Partner about a year later. As the small animal side of the business continued to grow, I became increasingly involved in that side of the workload and started to develop a particular interest in small animal surgery.
When Birchencliffe surgery opened, I enjoyed being involved in establishing the surgery and then likewise when we opened the surgery at Mirfield, I worked alongside many of the staff who are still working there serving pet owners.
20 years on, I spend most of my working week at the Maple Street surgery which has now been awarded Veterinary Hospital status by the RCVS. Along with my colleagues, I am very involved in the management of the Practice as well as the small animal clinical work. We have the level of facilities available now that we could only have dreamed of 20 years ago and with 18 Vets, the Practice has changed beyond recognition. That trainee Vet Nurse who started work on the same day as me…. she is now our Head Nurse
One of the great joys of my role is that I continue to see many of the same clients that I first met 20 years ago. I have loved serving the animal owners of Huddersfield over the last 20 years and, at what is probably the mid-point of my career, I look forward to the next 20 years.