A can do attitude: the secret of my life

As I grab the baton from our President Kate Richards, whose blog last month started this years all female presidential team’s musings, I’ll share with you, my story.

I Have A Dream

I originally come from central London with a garden little bigger than a postage stamp but this did not stop me entering each year the WH Smith ‘Win A Pony’ competition (yes, this was a real thing back in the 70’s).

The youngest child of three, precocious, loud, the fun child is how I was described, I was incredibly fortunate to have parents who encouraged individualism. By 7 years old I had decided I wanted to be a vet and despite this being a totally novel career option, I was encouraged to follow my dreams, but always have a Plan B, just in case.

From 11 years of age, my gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs and I travelled to and from Staffordshire to a progressive mixed boarding school that actively encouraged children of all backgrounds to be the best they could be, self-leadership from the start

The immediate neighbour to the school was a small traditional dairy farm and this is where my love of farming came from. The farmers’ son and daughter took me under their wing and introduced me to cows, sheep and pigs and by the time I left school, I could be left to do the milking while they were making the silage.

All this made my application to vet school a little bit different and although I was rejected by a couple (their loss!), Glasgow took a chance and the rest is history.

In final year, I needed to apply for jobs, so thought I’d apply for a US internship, thinking I had no chance, but would do it for the experience. Six months later I found myself the sheep ‘expert’ as a food animal intern at Iowa State University (there are not many sheep in Iowa)

The Name Of The Game

Once back in the UK, up to my eyes in debt (where a special treat was a cream apple turnover for 99p), 2 children and taking on a hill farm tenancy in the West of Scotland with my husband, I knocked on the door of the local vet and asked for a job.

I got to travel overseas (well, Isle of Cumbrae anyway!) and partly as I was married to a farmer, got accepted into the local community very quickly. There was little spare time and I suppose this was the start of my portfolio career, if that’s a description of juggling many balls in the air at the same time.

Most of these next few years past in a blur. There were times, due to a lack of vets available, where I was sole charge in what was a 3 vet practice.

Fast forward twenty-five years, it was time for a change. I was ready to leave clinical work, but not ready to leave the profession. Within a year of hanging up my stethoscope, I found myself on the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Board (I saw an ad on Facebook, really!), had been elected onto RCVS Council and was on my way to being BVA Scottish Branch President.

When All Is Said And Done

My career (and my life!) has been a continual case of grabbing opportunities. I haven’t succeeded at every one and to be honest, two or three knock backs in a row are hard, but if something appears that interests me, I’ll give it a go!

Look where I’ve ended up, that’s where a can-do, have a go attitude has landed me. It’s in all of us, we just need to believe in ourselves!

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