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Getting to know you – Simon and Andrea Davies

We met on day one of our time at the University of Bristol Vet school in the corridor of our hall of residence. Our studies gave us so many great experiences and are years we both remember fondly. Following graduation, we both took jobs at busy small animal practices, Andrea in Oxfordshire and Simon in Derbyshire. After marrying in 1999 we relocated to Warwickshire where we have been part of Avonvale Veterinary Centres and an expanding team of first opinion vets and nurses ever since.
We both love our clinical work. The endless variety and the different ways that pets can become ill or injured and require our help are a constant challenge. We also really enjoy the contact with (most of our) pet owners many of whom we have come to know so well over the years. We have been encouraged by our wonderful staff teams of receptionists, animal care assistants and veterinary nurses who work so hard and with such devotion and care for our patients.
Naturally there are challenges; the puppy that has just inhaled a pebble, the call that comes in during evening surgery about the Labrador that has eaten its owner’s underwear, or the cat that has enjoyed a night on the town only for it to end in a traumatic accident. There are pets whose fear and pain can make them a little anti-social to say the least. There are the days when everything seems to go wrong and despite the best efforts of the team it just isn`t enough. There are times when colleagues are struggling just to get through another busy clinic. But the rewards are great. Being able to work hard using both the body and the mind and to have made a difference at the end of a long day has always been such a blessing.
Thinking about the changes in practice over the last 20 years is very exciting: the improvement in ECC and 24-hour cover across the profession; a growing emphasis on quality and improvement; the beginnings of evidenced based medicine; the rapid growth and scope of referral services; the changes in technology (who would ever have thought I would be using a CT machine every day!); the amazing new therapies such as monoclonal antibody therapies and stem cell treatments for osteoarthritis.
In recent years we have gone on to lead and shape the business encountering both the joys and difficulties of heading up a team. One of the greatest joys is in playing a part in the development of our new graduates and seeing our care assistants progress to student nurses and then to RVNs. Leadership has been extremely difficult during the last few months of COVID-19 we have had to strive more than ever to protect and encourage our associates. The chaos we have all known of a workplace where vulnerable staff are isolating or caring for children at home and others are continuing to provide care on the front lines working through the heat and sweat of PPE.
Living and working in one place for 20 years has been a real opportunity to grow deep roots in the local community. We are part of the local church and have developed many close friendships along the way as well as seeing our three children grow up and begin to head off into the world. Strangely, our eldest son, now a student at Bristol University too, lives only 200 metres from the corridor in which we met all those years ago.
As followers of Jesus, we know first and foremost his guiding hand in the workplace. We know his help and strength daily. We continue to try to allow ourselves to be formed in his image, to strive to be the sort of leaders who are fair and honest with all our customers and who care for and encourage all our employees. And most of all to use our hands and minds to care for each individual animal with respect and to our very best ability.
Andrea and Simon Davies