Veterinary legend urges graduates to give back to profession

Veterinary legend urges graduates to give back to profession

One of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated veterinary figures has told NI Veterinary Today young graduates should “always make time for relaxation and find a way to give back to the profession when they can”.

Des Thompson, who founded the Earlswood Surgery in 1969, said: “Pressures in practice are still very real. The profession has seen many changes over the years. When I started out it was a 24/7 job and to keep going I always made sure I took time out for family holidays.”

Now aged 83, and with a wealth of experience and an encyclopedic knowledge, the first ever Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Queen’s Medal recipient said the highlight of a long and distinguished career was  “supporting young vets to find their feet – from student conferences to my more formal involvement”.

While Des opened the Earlswood practice in December 1969 (which is still going strong today) going it on his own after starting working life with his father in Chichester Street was at first tinged with sadness.

He explained: “By this time, my father’s health was declining and regrettably we never got to work together in the new premises as he died within a few months of us moving.”

‘They have kept me young’

In 2009 he finally retired but still takes a keen interest in the profession here, as he told NI Veterinary Today.

“I remain actively involved with the Young Vet NI network which launched in February 2014, and the Vet Support NI initiative – they have kept me young and continue to remind me every day of why I love the profession,” explained Des, who also boasts an OBE among his many accolades.

“The profession has allowed me to travel all over the world, meet some amazing characters, including Her Majesty the Queen, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and President Mugabe.

“I even have a bronze bust of me created and commissioned by the late Lord Ballyedmond of Norbrook Laboratories,” he added.

Read the full interview with Des in the next edition of NI Veterinary Today and Sign up to our newsletter here >>>>