On the first of April, our longest serving partner, Niall Taylor, will be retiring from the partnership although he will continue to work at the practice on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Niall and his wife, Alison, who is also a partner and retiring at the same time, have worked at Orchard Veterinary Group since first coming to live in Glastonbury in 1992. Niall has written a short piece for us:
It was forty-three years ago that I first started at veterinary college in Edinburgh as a callow youth of just eighteen years. I qualified in the summer of 1982 and immediately became a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in a ceremony at college; this was one of the proudest moments of my life.
When I qualified there were only three television channels, personal computers were virtually unheard of and clinical records were held on card indexes. Mobile phones were roughly the size and weight of a couple of house bricks, generally only used by rich people in films and they certainly didn’t take pictures, play music or manage your appointments diary for you.
I started my first job in Cornwall on the grand salary of £5,000 a year, living in a caravan in my boss’s back garden. Eventually I upgraded to a proper house where I lived for another three years or so, working in mixed practice and being on call every second night and weekend. Most of my days (and nights) were spent on farms, testing for TB and brucellosis and dealing with calvings, lambings, lameness, mastitis and sick calves.
My next job was in Wiltshire where my mixed practice work continued although the rota was slightly better and I was starting to take more of an interest in small animal (i.e. pets) work. I was also starting to take an interest in other things too, and I met and married a lovely young veterinary nurse, Alison, who for reasons unknown, has stuck by me to this day.
Ten years after qualifying I was on the move again and in 1992 I was asked by the partners at Orchard Veterinary Group to work with them to help build up the small animal side in what was then a mainly farm animal practice. This I did with relish, starting by breaking up some very ugly waiting room benches and ending up by designing the building we are now in on Wirrall Park Road, one of the best appointed custom built veterinary premises of its day. We relocated here in November 1997. In between being on duty, designing buildings, moving premises and all the other worries of being a partner in a busy veterinary practice, Alison and I (mainly Alison to be fair!) managed to produce two wonderful children, Tom and Charlotte, who attended local schools and now call Glastonbury home.
My time in practice has certainly had its highs and lows. From the tragedy of loved pets succumbing to disease or injury or a farmer having a long-established pedigree herd wiped out because of TB to the joy of bringing new life into the world or managing to arrive at a diagnosis and on occasions performing life-saving treatment. It is an honour to have been part of the veterinary profession all this time, something I believe to be a vocation or calling, not just a job. In my 27 years at Orchard Vets I have had the privilege of working with some of the finest, most professional people I have ever known as they single-mindedly care for the animals in their charge, and their owners. Although I personally had to stop doing out of hours work ten years ago after a quarter of a century doing so, my colleagues still continue to provide a full 24 hour service, from our own premises, to all our clients and this is something of which I am incredibly proud. Fewer and fewer practices these days do this, it has become the norm in many establishments to shut up shop in the evenings and expect owners of sick or injured animals to transport them to a central ‘out of hours’ provider often a considerable distance away. This is not the way we do things.
Nowadays every veterinary practice worth its salt has not just one computer but a whole network of them, mobile phones are pocket-sized and a lynch pin of daily life and work and we now have more TV channels than you could shake a stick at (although sadly quality seems to have deteriorated as quantity has increased!). But for all that the trappings have changed, the people working in veterinary practice by and large have remained much the same. We still uphold, I believe, the same standards and ethics, we still work for the animal and help owners navigate through difficult choices from buying a young puppy to making end of life decisions when the time finally comes. And it is this which I will miss most of all when I am retired, not management and wrestling with an ever increasing amount of bureaucracy, but simply the people and the animals. This of course is the reason I am unable to stop work completely from day one and will continue to work on a part-time basis on Saturday and Sunday mornings and Alison will continue to process insurance claims during the week. We have to wean ourselves away slowly from practice, and if that sounds like an addiction then neither of us would have it any other way!
In appreciation of Niall and Alison’s contribution to Orchard Vets, we’re holding a COFFEE MORNING on Friday 15th March between 11am and 1.30pm, so come along and join us!