A pet project has led to a major success story for Hucknall vet Graham Oliver.
It is 20 years ago last Friday since he opened his Buckley House Veterinary Centre on the town’s West Street, making his dream of owning his own practice come true.
After buying the property, which was formerly a DIY and glazing business, Graham began building work for the practice, literally laying bricks and doing the plastering himself.
Renovations and improvements followed over the years and an animal ‘hospital’ with an adjoining pharmacy was added to the facilities.
Graham is now principal of three practices. The second one is East Midlands Referrals on Nottingham Road, Hucknall, which receives complex orthopaedic work from other vets throughout the region and beyond.
The third is a relatively new canine hydrotherapy and physiotherapy centre at Carnfield Hall, South Normanton.
Graham (52) first showed an interest in his subject as a six-year-old boy in York when he was fascinated by pond life and examined bugs in the water. After the family moved to Hertfordshire, he started collecting lizards and slow worms on holidays in different parts of England.
An ex-nurse who was a neighbour and friend helped out when one of the lizards developed a growth on its neck and provided a scalpel for removal of the cyst.
The lizard laid eggs, hatched young, which were the size of matchsticks, and Graham spent many hours gathering greenfly on a small paintbrush to feed them.
He also had a tortoise which did not survive hibernation and took it to a local vet to find out why. It was the same surgery, Davisons in Nottingham, which was to give Graham his first job years later as a newly-qualified surgeon.
Not longer after, he joined the PDSA at Dunkirk and began the long process of gathering equipment towards setting up his own practice. Graham said: “The progress we have made has certainly surpassed my original expectations.”
A reputed pioneer in veterinary surgery, Graham is shortly to introduce a CT scanner, the first of its type in Europe, at East Midlands Referrals.
Three people who have worked for the practice since its inception -- Sue Wetton, Kate Dean and Fiona Sinclair -- were at a photocall to mark the special anniversary.
Fiona, who is office manager, said: “We feel really proud that this milestone has been reached.”