A RETIRED vet who was a pioneer of pet medicine has published his memoirs.

Derek Carter, 80, is one of the main founders of the Northwich-based Willows Veterinary Group. His family life and 35-year career caring for animals has been documented in a self-penned book.

The veterinary surgeon brought small animal care to Cheshire in the form of Willows Veterinary Hospital in Hartford which Derek developed in the 1960s with fellow Willows founding partners Gareth Llewellyn and Gareth Williams.

Derek said: “I first came to work at the practice in Hartford to do farm work but I lived in a practice house in Winsford with my late wife Anne. At the time, Winsford had a population of around 13,000 people and there was no surgery looking after people’s cats and dogs.

“It was in the 1960s when people were first becoming aware, helped by James Herriot, that things could be done for their pets.

“Up until that time, there was a lot of anxiety about taking your pet to the vets because of the belief they thought they would end up being put down.

“But that was starting to change and we used to have people coming and knocking on the door at all times of the day and night asking me to look at their animals.

“In the end we put a notice on the corner of the garage that said ‘Small Animal Surgery’ and the consulting room was the wash house round the back and the consulting table was on top of the twin tub washing machine.

“It grew from there and in 1964, we opened a full-time small animal surgery at Hartford and two years later, we started building the small animal hospital which shows the sudden demand there was for specialised small animal medicine, treatment and care.”

Derek has two children, Alison, now 54 and a biologist living in Hexham, and Jeffrey, 49, an electronics engineer of Mirfield, Yorkshire. He now lives in Kelsall with his second wife Jean. His first wife Anne sadly died of cancer in 1998.

He decided to write his memoirs for his grandsons, Richard, 17, and Christopher, 15, so they had a record of their grandfather’s life and career. Sales of the book will help raise money for Tarporley & District War Memorial Cottage Hospital.

He said: “Willows Veterinary Group is now the epitome of modern veterinary practices which strives to exceed the expectations of its clients because of the highly specialised care it is able to provide.

“I am proud of this and proud of the hard work of so many people who have helped to develop Willows in this way. It has always stayed true to its central ethos of putting the welfare of people’s pets first and that is as true today as it was when we first set up the partnership more than 50 years ago.

“It was always important to us that we provided the best possible care we could and we were always looking for ways to reinvest and improve everything we did.”

Willows Veterinary Hospital is currently undergoing a major reinvestment programme which is due to be completed this summer.

The Memoirs of Derek Carter: A Cheshire Veterinary Surgeon is available to buy from various Willows Veterinary Group surgeries including Willows Veterinary Hospital. Price £9.95 with a £2 donation to Tarporley & District War Memorial Cottage Hospital