Trouble and Strife.
Stephanie and I first met in 1977 when I was a fresh-faced new graduate and she was doing work experience from sixth form.  At that stage she was set on becoming a vet, but God and the exam board had other ideas, so she went on to bigger and better things and studied medicine at Birmingham. After six years of engaging in a long-distance relationship we married in 1986 and now, with the children having moved out, we are looking to what new things lie in store.
Two-and-a-bit brushes with the broadcast media. 
Being Secretary of VCF, my name and contact details were available to those who were searching. When the Dangerous Dogs Act was passed in 1991, I was approached by BBC radio in Manchester and gave an interview early one Sunday morning on my response, as a Christian, to being forced to carry out euthanasia on a dog just because it belonged to a certain breed.
The second encounter involved me performing the most difficult operation I had ever performed, a cat spay in front of the cameras from Songs of Praise.  This was on the occasion, in 1994, of the 150th Anniversary of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and Pam Rhodes and her team of technicians spent the morning in my practice creating hours of film most of which ended up on the cutting room floor.
The ‘bit’ refers to my being contacted by TV-AM wanting me to appear the next morning alongside Roland Rat to discuss a topic that I now forget.  Unfortunately, I was not free to attend and the place was taken by an RSPCA Officer.
Miscellaneous Memorabilia.
It would have been on the 2nd January 1987 that, having become a partner in the practice, the nursing staff began making known their feelings about me moving to the dark side and becoming one of ‘them’. They’d left a hangman’s noose trailing from the rooflight in my consulting room.... I think it was all in good spirits.  I still have the noose in a box in the attic along with my degree certificate from Glasgow University, a commendation from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue (for attending an RTA involving a lorry loaded with pigs) and my first payslip showing a net monthly salary of £251.38 plus a ‘Lodging Allowance’ of £41.67.
A claim for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
It was late one January afternoon in 2005 when an Italian Mastiff bitch with a large distended abdomen was presented at the surgery.  It was obvious that she was due to whelp but just as obviously so exhausted that there was no way she was going to do it herself.  So, with a team of two nurses, we began the caesarean section and the puppies began making their appearances.  Eventually with every single towel in the practice having been pressed into action we had one dead and twenty-three live puppies. We made the front page of the Daily Express (‘Just one big yappy family’) and page three of the Daily Mail.
Clients, Colleagues and Clinical Cases.
These are quite obviously the sources of all the frustration, opposition and (in the case of the sixth dietary-indiscretion diarrhoea dog of the morning) downright boredom that the job has to offer.  But they are also what makes the job so enjoyable, so varied, so downright rewarding. There is a good feeling about building a relationship with an owner, gaining their trust and working together for the good of the patient.  There is a wonderful companionship and support within the veterinary team with all having a vital role to play in producing the successful outcomes.  There is the downright thrill of completing your first caudal superficial epigastric axial pattern flap or cow caesarean at midnight in a cold draughty barn.
Veterinary Christian Fellowship.
Back in the day I joined, Hall, Thurley, Soldan and Fennell. It was what you were then allowed to call a ‘Christian practice’ and I worked with one other assistant and three partners.  It was thus I was quickly introduced to VCF.  I became Secretary/Treasurer and was privileged to hold that position for over ten years.  That initially involved organising an AGM (with a business session and a short talk) each year in London and producing a Newsletter.  Over the years the Fellowship grew, and the AGM became a conference held at various locations around the English midlands.  The Newsletter changed from an A4 sheet to an A5 folded booklet but was still produced by cutting stencils on a manual typewriter and duplicating the whole thing on a Xerox machine.  (Google them!)
More importantly though, VCF provided teaching, support and fellowship.  Knowledgeable, wise friends who were there to share in the highs and lows of life as a Christian in our God-given calling.
It is a source of great joy to see VCF has continued to flourish and extend its ministries. I pray for God’s continuing blessing on all its activities and that we all seek not to see what veterinary medicine can give to us but what we can give to it and all those who come in to contact with us either as fellow professionals or as clients of the services we provide.