For farmers in County Londonderry, vet Eddie Campbell has been a familiar face over the last 50 years, with no sign of that changing any time soon.
At 83, Eddie’s passion for his work means he has no intention of retiring.
“I just wouldn’t be happy if I had nothing to do.” he says.
Eddie studied at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and was offered a position with David Laird at Fort James Veterinary Clinic before he had even graduated. David had visited The Royal Dick, looking for an assistant with ‘common sense’ and was pointed in Eddie’s direction by a senior lecturer.
His passion for animals was evident at an early age. Eddie’s grandfather was a local gamekeeper and Eddie spent a lot of time with him, chatting to visiting vets. Regular vet, Barry Fairweather started taking Eddie out on his rounds with him when he visited local farms. Eddie gained a familiarity with the reality of working with large animals and feels that anyone looking at becoming a vet does the same, giving them practical experience and a chance to experience things ‘at the coalface’.
Eddie graduated 20th July 1960 and, just two days later, he started work with David Laird.
Life as a vet has been good to Eddie. On call out to a cow that had swallowed a ‘pratie’ in his first four weeks, he met a girl, Dorothy Craig. They have just celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary!
In 1969, David Laird kept his word and sold the farm animal practice to Eddie. The companion animal element followed 10 months later.
Eddie and Dorothy bought a house close to the practice and, after renovating it, relocated the practice to their home and renamed it Drumahoe Veterinary Clinic. They soon realised that being in such close proximity to his work encroached on their quality of life and, so a new site was needed.
In January 1969, the practice moved to a new building on Ardlough Road in Drumahoe, where the practice still operates from. Over the years, the building has been renovated and re-equipped to keep up with the ever-changing veterinary world. But the basic layout is still the same as it was back in 1969.
Eddie worked solo until the late 70s. His first assistant was a woman, an unusual choice for the era. Vets have come and gone over the years but there was never more than three vets at any one time. In 2014, Eddie was awarded an MBE for his service to the veterinary profession.
Eddie has now been joined by his son, Craig, who is the Clinical Director at the practice. Eddie has slowed his pace a little but still works 20+ hours a week.
“I’m not really planning to stop any time.” he says.
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