Vet Faye Bethell set to open new North Walsham practice for ordinary animals - and exotic pets

Faye Bethell at her new veterinary practice in North Walsham which, along with usual pets, will also look after exotic animals.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Faye Bethell at her new veterinary practice in North Walsham which, along with usual pets, will also look after exotic animals. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Thursday, January 23, 2014
10:00 AM

Performing caesareans on monkeys, treating constipated snakes and egg-bound birds, repairing damaged tortoise shells, sorting out rabbits’ dental problems – are all in a day’s work for young vet Faye Bethell.

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And now Miss Bethell, 28, is about to offer her expertise to the world at large with the opening on Monday of her own, purpose-built veterinary centre in north Norfolk.

The practice, which represents an investment of more than £500,000, is the realisation of a dream for Miss Bethell, who qualified as a vet at the Royal Veterinary College, London, in 2009.

“I’ve never wanted to do anything else – and I wanted to do it my way, with facilities I would be happy working with,” she said. “I will also be offering an out-of-hours service because that’s what I would want for my own pets – this is a service, not a nine-to-five office job.”

Miss Bethell’s determination saw her overcome objections to her centre from North Norfolk District Council planning officials.

They had recommended that the scheme should be refused, because of concerns about traffic leaving and entering the site, beside the Bethell family’s home on Heath Road, off the B1150 Norwich Road on the edge of North Walsham.

But Miss Bethell commissioned a report by an independent consultant challenging the highways objections and, in November 2012, planning councillors overturned their officers’ recommendation and unanimously backed her application.

Miss Bethell, who holds a European GP certificate in exotic animal practice, believes her Toll Barn Veterinary Centre is one of only two or three centres in Norfolk which can treat exotic species.

And she anticipates that some clients will therefore be travelling long distances to bring their pets for consultations. While waiting for their animals to be treated, Miss Bethell hopes owners will visit North Walsham, helping to boost businesses in the town.

The new centre includes separate waiting areas and wards for dogs, cats and exotic animals, together with two operating theatres, a laboratory, and an isolation ward.

It is also equipped with the latest technology, including a digital x-ray machine, worth £25,000, which can cope with everything from a mouse and smaller, to a Newfoundland dog.

She will initially be joined in the new venture by vet Sebastian Szpakowski, 31, from Lowestoft, but hopes eventually to expand into a four or five-vet practice.

Miss Bethell’s mother, Nola, will be the practice manager while her father Jim has been supervising the project, and civil engineer brother Myles has been giving his advice when needed.

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