Hugh Emlyn Davies M.B.E., B.V.Sc., M.R.C.V.S.
13th July 1936 –8th Oct 2021.
His former business partners Richard Stephenson & Stuart Holland write:-
Hugh was born into a veterinary family and followed the tradition when he enrolled with the Bristol Veterinary School in 1955. He graduated on 6th July
1960 and after a brief spell in mixed practice in Dorset was invited to join the Lichfield practice of Prof Alasdair Steele Bodger in 1962. He rapidly proved his skills as an equine vet and became a partner in the practice in 1964.
Gradually the practice grew based on the firm foundations of clinical skill and client service fostered by Hugh. His many clients appreciated his no nonsense approach to veterinary medicine. He always kept up to date with the latest developments and was extremely well read.
Hugh’s father’s practice had a forge ‘at the bottom of the garden’ and this led him to appreciate the importance of vets working closely with farriers in matters of equine care. Hugh was appointed as an examiner for the Worshipful Company of Farriers and became one of their most highly regarded members. He became an expert in how remedial shoeing could help resolve equine lameness.
Regardless of circumstances Hugh was invariably impeccably presented - a real country gentleman. Equine practice is dangerous work and Hugh suffered some serious injuries over the years. On one occasion he was kicked on his knee and sustained a very nasty fracture. Despite the obvious pain he would not be taken to hospital wearing his wellingtons – insisting on them being removed and replaced by his well-polished shoes.
Hugh also began the practice’s association with the horse racing industry. Through his pragmatic advice he helped local trainer Reg Hollinshead achieve over 1,500 winners. Reg and Hugh became firm friends over the long years of their respective careers both learning much from the other. Hugh was appointed as veterinary surgeon to both Uttoxeter and Wolverhampton racecourses and was probably the last at those locations to insist on wearing a bowler hat! The hat being sent to London once a year for cleaning.
He had a prodigious knowledge of country lore and field sports. He was always fascinated to learn more about any aspect of traditional rural life. Hugh spent many happy hours fly fishing and shooting. It was not unknown for his assistants to be presented with a brace of freshly and expertly shot pheasants. Hugh had a keen interest in gardening. In typical fashion, his vegetable plot was always skilfully designed on graph paper in the Autumn for
the following year, and his meticulous planning usually produced a very abundant crop. He was a family man, who enjoyed watching his young sons play rugby - a sport close to his heart.
Although he pretended to be a technophobe for example always referring to CD players as ‘gramophones’, he was in reality an early adopter of technological advances in veterinary practice. He ensured that vehicles were equipped with radiotelephones to improve efficiency, his call sign being, ‘Bore Baker’, he purchased a mobile radiography unit and rapidly identified the advantages of ultrasonography in diagnosing tendon injuries. However, he never lost sight of the fact that a thorough clinical examination is the essential lynchpin of appropriate treatment.
Perhaps Hugh’s greatest achievement in the veterinary world was his mentoring of junior colleagues. He was early to recognise the benefits of studying for post graduate qualifications and many of the better-known equine practices in the UK are staffed by his former assistants.
Up on stepping down from the practice he was awarded an MBE for services to veterinary medicine and farriery. He continued to follow with interest the rapid development of the Pool House veterinary group, last visiting the Equine Clinic in Lichfield on the occasion of the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales (July 2018). Hugh was both delighted with and amazed at the new facilities recognising how far veterinary medicine had progressed since his graduation
in 1960. He flourished in retirement being able to spend more time with Josie in their beautiful Cottage. Latterly he suffered from ill health but bore his various adversities with great character and very good humour. Right up to the end he remained positive and was still able to entertain with many amusing tales from his career.
He died after a short illness on 8th October 2021. He is survived by sons James and Ben and grandchildren, Thomas, Robert and Celia