A north Cumbrian vet who has pioneered IVF for cattle in the UK and played a leading role in the foot and mouth crisis, has been honoured.
David Black, managing director and founder of Paragon Veterinary Group, has been awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
It is the most prestigious award the veterinary profession can bestow.
“The real honour about this is that it is a peer award, and that is why I feel so humbled and proud,” said David.
Since buying a small three-person practice in Dalston in 1994, he has built Paragon into a leading independent veterinary group with 25 vets and centres in Newbiggin and Wetheral.
David’s interest was fired when, aged 11, he watched a family friend who was a vet operating on a sheep.
“It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and there was a bit of blood around. And I decided there and then, that’s what I wanted to be,” said David, who grew up in north-east Scotland, but now lives near Ivegill with his wife Sue, who is a health visitor.
They have three grown up daughters.
David has a team of three vets and five technicians, based at Newbiggin near Penrith.
David played a leading role in the foot and mouth crisis in 2001.
“We were the worst hit practice in the UK. Someone had to stand up – we were in Cumbria with all this carnage around us and Tony Blair at that time was saying everything was fine,” he says.
“We had a meeting at the practice and decided we should start to speak out, and by that evening I had interviews in the media.”
David later contributed to one of the government enquiries into the crisis.
“The highlight of my career is seeing Paragon grow to be a vibrant healthy independent practice,” he said.
“I am proudest of the people that have come through, the vets, veterinary nurses, veterinary technicians and support staff. I’m really proud of that team.”