As part of this latest issue, to focus on Crediton, we asked veterinary practice owner Tony Kemmish a few questions, to get to know him a little better and learn more about St Boniface Vets.
How old were you, when you realised you wanted to work with animals? There was a big age gap between me and my big sister and she married a farmer when I was only 10. For as long as I can remember I’ve grown up around all types of animals working on the farm. We’ve always had dogs and I couldn’t be without one.
Why did you become a vet? I love the day to day challenge. Absolutely no day is ever the same. I can be in the clinic doing orthopaedic surgery in the morning and then out calving a cow a few hours later. I love the relationship that we have with our clients. Having been practising in Crediton for 15 years now I’ve been privileged to get to know so many of our clients and their families on a personal level and that’s what it’s all about.
Tell me more about running your own practice? Like any job there are highs and lows. It’s all about the team to be honest - We have a great clinical team and fantastic support staff, who keep the practice on the straight and narrow whilst we can get on with the clinical work. I’m sure everyone would tell you that the less management work I do the better.
I always felt that our clients, whether they be small animal, farm or equine deserve a really high standard of care with equally high class facilities. That’s why we moved the clinic to our purpose built site in Exeter road back in 2012 and have our large animal clinic out at Cheriton Bishop. We want to offer our clients and their animals a truly high standard of care locally with staff who put them at ease.
Why have you decided to remain an independent practice? I totally believe in old fashioned values. We are one of the few professions left that genuinely run on trust. We give a really high level of service at a fair price, we’re not corporate, we’re totally family run. We have absolutely no intention of selling the practice like so many other vets are doing up and down the country.
Where do you get your drive and enthusiasm? I love seeing what a difference we can make. I’m incredibly lucky to go to work every day and look forward to it, not having any idea what will come through the door or where I might have to go. There’s always something new no matter how long you’ve been doing this job. One of the best parts is simply keeping up to date with the latest knowledge – that’s what drives me really, there’s always more to learn and new ways to do things.
Are any of your relations in the veterinary world? Not yet!
Which vet school did you attend? I went to Glasgow vet school - I can highly recommend it, the surroundings kept the country boy in me sane. I made some great lifelong friends and even found a wife!!
Which subject did you like the most at vet school? I’ve always loved pathology. My first degree was in anatomy. Finding out just how things work, so that you can put them right when they eventually go wrong, has always been my passion. We still do a reasonable amount of post mortem work on the farm side which fascinates me.
Which subject did you loathe the most at vet school? No question about it - Biochemistry, very dry, but a necessity I’m afraid.
How many procedures have you experienced so far…? to the closest 100. Crikey! I’ve no idea, I can tell you that I’ve had my hand in over 300 cows backsides this morning alone!!
What was your last qualification gained? Two years ago, I completed a masters in Bovine Reproduction (DBR). It’s a very highly regarded qualification which takes two years to complete, finishing up with a week of exams. It was tough, but I was lucky to have the support of my family and the staff at the clinic. Only a dozen or so people complete it every other year and the knowledge that you gain from it is invaluable for our farm clients.
On the small animal side, I completed a course on advance knee surgery last year and have been offering a new technique at the clinic for cruciate repair; which involves cutting the tibia bone and placing an implant to correct the problem.
Getting to know Tony a little better…
What’s the last book you read? - Ironically a book called ‘sleep’ - just trying to figure out how to get some really!
Do you have a hobby? I’m very lucky to have a young family, an 8 year old daughter and a 6 year old son. It’s a great time for us simply to spend time together - we’re lambing at the moment but I’m not sure you can call that a hobby really!!
Where is your favourite place in the whole wide world? Do you know honestly, one of the best things about going away is the coming back. I love this part of the country. From the day we arrived people have made us feel at home - I could never imagine moving away. I’m so lucky to spend a good deal of time travelling around the countryside. Our 9 vet farm team cover from Taunton to Torquay and Honiton to Davidstowe, I can’t believe that I get to immerse myself in such beautiful countryside every day of the week
Is there anything that makes you nervous? Not meeting expectations. We work incredibly hard to make sure that our service is what we would expect it to be.
Do any animals intimidate you? None of the ones that I work with.
What’s the last compliment you got? At a routine farm visit yesterday actually (a farming family who joined us when Wolfgar vets merged with us). We were chatting whilst I was washing up at the end of the visit and they told me that they feel confident in all of the vets at the practice and never worry who they see – that’s what it’s all about, we’re a team!
What’s it like covering the Out of Hours work? I’m incredibly proud of our out of hours service. We have 3 vets and one nurse on call every night. Unlike any other practice in the area your phone call comes through direct to one of our vets. That’s what our clients have asked for. In an emergency people do not want to talk to a stranger at a call centre which slows down the appropriate response. Our system avoids that.
Areas of the Practice
Explain the areas of the practice…? When I joined Sylvie in 2002 there was two of us. Now we have 6 small animal vets, 9 farm vets and 3 equine vets
What’s next for St Boniface Vets? Come and talk to us whenever you can and we’ll tell you all about it…
To chat with Tony, Marie and the St Boniface team, pop along to their Open Day on 13th May (12 – 4pm). It promises to be a fantastic afternoon, with lots of fun games and educational elements. To find out more, please call the practice 01363 772860