J. R. Bainbridge - November 2023 | British Equine Veterinary Association
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J. R. Bainbridge - November 2023

18 Dec 2023 BEVA

Joseph Robert, always known as Robert at home and in the practice, or as Bob to his many  friends. His Father was a farmer at Ecton, about midway between Northampton and Wellingborough, but both his Grandfather and Great Grandfather were Veterinary Surgeons practicing in Wellingborough. Small wonder then that all he ever wanted to be was a Vet.

He was educated at Wellingborough School and  the University of Bristol Veterinary School from where he qualified in the summer of 1959. Started his working life initially doing a locum, then working in Peterborough. In 1961 he returned to the Wellingborough practice under John Edwards, became partner in the mid sixties and stayed there until he retired in 1998. The practice was in the same premises as his Great Grandfather moved to in 1874 which continues to this day as a Veterinary Practice without interruption for almost 150 years. In 1962, he married Bärbel in Germany, they had two children, Thomas , who now lives in Perth, Australia and Martina who sadly passed away in 2009.

A largely agricultural practice but with a significant amount of small animal work and a few horses when he first joined, he embraced the many changes in veterinary medicine and surgery that took place over the following decades. He was always willing to keep up to date with new medicines, techniques and equipment. Over the years he was heavily involved in many changes to the buildings at London Road, often made more difficult by the Grade11 listing of the property. By the time he retired, it was a very different place compared with the times he spent there when he would go to the surgery after a day at Wellingborough School which was only a five minutes walk away.

The nature of the practice changed a lot during his tenure, there were in excess of 50 milking herds when he started in the  practice, about 8 when he retired, many other parts of large animal practice also declined over the years. However, the very significant increases in both the Small Animal and Equine sides of the practice meant there was always plenty to do. In addition to the rigours of life in a busy veterinary practice, he had many interests in other aspects of the profession. He was a longtime member of the BVA and the local division of the BVA, the South East Midlands Veterinary Association, of which he served a term as President. One of his most cherished involvements was with the British Equine Veterinary Association. He was a member for many years, became a Council Member and was very involved in organising the commercial exhibition at the BEVA Congress, a job that caused much head scratching trying to keep the Exhibitors happy. The peak of his time with BEVA was to serve as President for the year 1989-1990. During this year he organised a highly successful study trip to Hawaii for BEVA Members, many of whom took their partners and stayed on for a holiday afterwards. The Trip was called “Hawaii Nine-O” after the eponymous TV series of the Seventies!

Robert was a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Farriers and a Freeman of the City of London. He took advantage of the privilege of driving livestock over London Bridge by taking some Jacob Sheep over the Bridge, there is no record of him carrying a naked sword in public! He was commended by British Eventing for his contributions to the health and welfare of the horse. He was a Trustee of the Wilby Branch of Riding for the Disabled.

For many years he was an Official Veterinary Surgeon of the Jockey Club, attending a number of Racecourses where he would undertake dope testing and other duties as directed by the Stewards. He continued doing this for several years after his retirement from practice until  the Jockey Club suddenly realised that he had exceeded their retirement age by some years

and had to be rapidly taken off their books!

During a lot of his working life, his Monday morning rounds had to be tailored so he could be back to base by 12.30pm to attend the weekly Rotary Club lunch. He was an active Rotarian for a long time, President of the Wellingborough Club 1998-1999 and became a Paul Harris Fellow.

Horses were a large part of his life from a young age, he was a very competent horseman and had wanted to ride in Point-to-Point Racing, he was dissuaded from this by his then Boss, who wanted him back at work in one piece. In later years he owned a Racehorse with which he had some success and a lot of fun, he also bred an Eventer and enjoyed watching it perform. Much of his retirement was spent in travelling, including trips to Australia visiting his son Thomas and many trips to Germany to his daughter Martina. Rotary matters also kept him occupied in his retirement.

A countryman at heart with a great interest in the farming world. Robert dedicated his working life to serving his patients and clients, a great believer in looking after them from the cradle to the grave, even when the timing was far from convenient. He was well liked and respected by his many clients and had a very wide circle of friends, he will be much missed by them all.