Lawrence Gerring died on 6th January 2016 aged 78. He was born into a farming family, educated in Oxfordshire and entered the Royal Veterinary College in 1956. He graduated with honours early in 1962 but before this he married Margaret in the few days he had available after Christmas in 1961.
He then took up his first job in mixed practice in Coalville. This began the progress of an outstanding person in the field of equine medicine and surgery. He had mapped out his career so as to fall into four segments. After practice Lawrence took up a research position with I.C.I. during which he was awarded his Ph.D. This led to further research into anaesthetic agents and replacement heart valves. Such was his skill and general expertise that he became surgical assistant to Dr Christian Barnard’s human heart transplant team in South Africa. He continued to work in the field at the Cardiac Unit in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
Following this was another spell in practice with Bill Walter, and then appointment as Reader in Veterinary Surgery at the Royal Veterinary College. He was quickly awarded a Personal Chair in Surgical Science, and ultimately became Head of the Large Animal Medicine and Surgery Division. This segment of his career ran its course with his great input into the design and construction of the Sefton Wing at the R.V.C.
He decided that his enforced separation from his family due to constant commuting from home to the R.V.C. had been for long enough, so he entered his last phase of professional life. That was of a surgical consultant to many equine practices, and then as a Claims Consultant to the Veterinary Defence Society. As regards the latter, he was a pleasure to prepare a report for. They were always appreciated and with no unnecessary questioning. To appear in a case with him was in the certain knowledge that it would result in the collapse of the opposition.
Lawrence retired in 2002, forty years after graduating as a Veterinary Surgeon. The above is a brief and factual summary of his career. What it does not tell is of the man himself. There are a multitude of adjectives that can be used to describe him – helpful, industrious, meticulous, integrity, practical, courteous, kind – and so many others.
Some examples of this can be related. He was very aware of the disadvantaged areas of the world and so spent a lot ot time in assisting the veterinary profession abroad. This was mainly in the form of demonstrating, teaching and examining - particularly in Africa. He was Secretary of B.E.V.A. for a time before becoming President in 1987 when he produced a very successful Congress in Reading. Behind the scenes and valuable input to the equine arm of the profession was as an examiner at Certificate and Diploma levels, a member of the Editorial Board of the E.V.J., and greatly instrumental in the development of E.V.E. As well as all this he was a Director of the Home of Rest for Horses – now the Horse Trust, and Veterinary Director of Riding for the Disabled.
Away from the profession Lawrence was a Jack of many trades, and Master of them all. The standards he set were exemplary and meticulous. He was a self-taught and perfectionist cabinet maker – his house is full of beautiful pieces of furniture made to his own design. As a sailor he reached the ultimate of a safe, experienced and competent skipper. To visit his home was a pleasure – he would cook a fine meal, provide excellent wine, illustrate the finer points of his furniture, show his rhubarb patch, immaculate workshop and then his classic cars. These latter were his passion in his senior years when he and Margaret took up vintage rallying.
But above all, in the depths of this quiet, remarkable and supremely competent man, was his love and loyalty to his family. His consideration for them came before anything else – he tried to involve and help them in everything he did, and was so proud of them all. In their turn Margaret led them together in looking after him so well during the final year of his debilitating illness.
The profession has lost an example to us all.
John Parker FRCVS