How did you come to be involved with VCF?
My friend, RVN and VCF member Bonny Millar introduced me only a few years ago when VCF was at the BVNA congress.
When and how did you become a Christian?
I grew up on a pig farm in Scotland and both my parents are from farming backgrounds and we went to church most Sundays at the local village church as all the local farmers did! Looking back, we lived in an idyllic setting right out in the countryside with amazing views of the hills and mountains behind it. My sister and I were christened there. I vividly remember our Sunday School lessons being taught out of a large colourful bible! I especially liked the Old Testament readings about Noah’s Ark and all the animals, probably no surprise there given my future career choice! I also remember the Yew tree that stood just outside the Sunday School building – the key to the church was hidden inside it. My sister and I used to sneak inside the church when we were out on our bikes! When I left school at 17 to start my training as a vet nurse I hardly went to church, though my hardback school Good News Bible (in brown paper of course -didn’t everyone cover their books in brown paper in the 70s and 80s?!!) and my little red Gideon’s bible always came with me. It wasn’t until I was married that my husband (Robin, a vet!) and I started attending the local church in the village to which we had just moved. But we became regular churchgoers at the Free Church when my son started attending Boys Brigade at the age of 5. That was 12 years ago and we are now part of the church family, though I am still at the beginning of my Christian journey.
Why did you choose veterinary nursing as a career?
Animals!!!! The only pet I was allowed at home was a pig and, on reflection, it was never the same pig! I loved going to my friend’s farm as she had cats, collies and pet lambs and I loved that. My parents were very organised in guiding both my sister and I into our chosen careers something I am trying to do with my own two children. My sister, Mary, became a Norland Nanny (she always loved the two-legged animals!) and I became a veterinary nurse.
Where did you qualify?
I qualified in 1992. Training was very different from how it is these days. My first year was entirely in practice (in Newbury, Berks). I then went to the Berkshire College of Agriculture, near Maidenhead, for their six months block residential course. then my final six months and second year placement in Mitcham in Surrey. Finding student placements was not easy (I guess that’s not changed really!) but they certainly shaped me as the nurse I am today. But then that is life and all our experiences shape the type of person we become.
What pets do you have or have you had in the past?
Zillions – not quite!! My first cat was called Dennis. He was a three-legged RTA that I took on from my first practice. He was simply wonderful, but I had to give him up several years later when I was living in rented accommodation, a room in a lady’s house. I was heartbroken to say goodbye. But he paved the way and I have had many cats since, plus dogs, hamsters, and aviary birds and when Robin and I bought our house after getting married, the numbers grew rapidly. We filled our life with many waifs and strays. So then came the rabbits, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, crows, ducks, geese and chickens. But in 2018 and with 2 kiddies leading our lives (!) we are home to 1 cat, 2 dogs, 2 sheep, 18 Dexter Cows, 2 Call Ducks and well I dread to think how many chickens! That bit is Robin’s out of work passion – he breeds and shows his cows and two different breeds of poultry.
Do you have a favourite aspect of veterinary nursing, such as consulting or theatre nursing?
I seem to have gone through the motions. I’ve been blessed to have a varied career and have moved about quite a lot. Surgical Nursing without seeing clients was my thing a few years ago but in December 2016 I became a part-time consult nurse, under duress I’ll add, but I have grown to love it! Behaviour and weight management are my two favourites and I really enjoy the client interface – something I didn’t think I would! I do this alongside a practice PR role which amongst other things includes community visits, for example teaching children about their pets. I have also been able to give something back to the profession and have been involved with both BVNA and RCVS VN council.
Are you challenged by being a Christian in the veterinary profession and do you have any prayer requests or answers to prayer to share with VCF?
Yes, and I find this question hard to answer. There are three of us that I know of in a team of about 65. We’re a lovely bunch of people and like most, we all have our own issues and troubles to deal with. Robin and I have just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and sharing the same work place and faith has allowed us to support each other and grow as people and Christians. I would pray that they will come to know God too and all he has provided for us.