My Week

VET Simon Clarke has worked at Highcliff Veterinary Practice in Ipswich since he qualified in 1978, becoming a partner 18 years ago. He met wife Marilyn at the Royal Veterinary College, and she worked as a veterinary nurse.

VET Simon Clarke has worked at Highcliff Veterinary Practice in Ipswich since he qualified in 1978, becoming a partner 18 years ago. He met wife Marilyn at the Royal Veterinary College, and she worked as a veterinary nurse. They have three sons, Matthew 22, Jo 21, and Stuart 19, and live in Stutton.


My day begins, as most days, with an alarm call at 6.30am followed by an early morning walk along the fringes of Alton Water with my two Labradors, Charity and Phoebe, prior to breakfast.

On the way into work I have a brief phone discussion with our practice manager, about the day-to-day running of our practice.

Consultations start at Ellenbrook at 8.45am and run through until about 10.45am, with 10-minute appointments. Today I see the usual Monday morning mix of cats with post weekend war wounds. There are also routine vaccinations and health checks, and a check up on a much improved dog with a relieved owner that I saw on Saturday suffering with acute diarrhoea and sickness.

At 10.45am, it is time for a quick cup of coffee and to return phone calls about ongoing cases and queries.

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I then travel to our Cliff Lane surgery where I am briefed on any Ellenbrook in-patients. Today a spaniel is undergoing knee surgery, and we discuss its after care.

The morning is completed with a visit to an elderly horse which has developed what appears to be a neurological problem.

After a brief stop for lunch, afternoon appointments begin again at Ellenbrook at 2.30pm and run through until 6pm - with a break between 4-4.30pm to catch up on phone messages.

I return home at 6.30pm, and after tea spend the evening catching up on some gardening after walking my dogs.


The day maps out in a similar way, and appointments at Ellenbrook run on until 10.30am.

I then spend the rest of the morning sedating six horses at a nearby livery yard, to enable the equine dentist to remove and rasp their teeth.

Afternoon appointments run from 2.30pm until 5.00pm for me on a Tuesday to enable an early finish one night each week. I spend a couple of enjoyable hours with my youngest son, clay pigeon shooting in Stutton in the evening.

The evening ends watching television, with a glass or two of wine with our three Chihuahua lap dogs curled up on the settee, catching up with the snooker, which reminds me of my misspent college days.


Morning surgery at Ellenbrook begins with a cat hit by a car, which needs hospitalising at our Cliff Lane surgery, and the morning ends with a very overweight dog with heart problems.

At 10.30am my phone calls include an inquiry about bird flu.

After morning surgery, I visit a very ill elderly cat, which I have to put to sleep. I spend sometime with the distressed owner.

My next visit is to a local livery yard to carry out routine vaccinations on the horses, and rasp some teeth.

Afternoon surgery is a little quieter today, so I take the opportunity to reduce my paperwork.

I am on call this evening, and we have no inpatients tonight at Cliff Lane. I am called out to a dog with a cut leg, an old cat with kidney failure and an old horse with colic, which I have to euthanase at 11.45pm.

I get to bed about 12.30am and fortunately get no more calls overnight.


Morning surgery at Ellenbrook is followed by a brief meeting with my practice manager to discuss building work in progress at our Brantham surgery, and staffing arrangements. I transfer a couple of patients back to our Cliff Lane surgery for x-rays and dental work.

My morning is then completed with a 'horse vetting', which involves examining a horse on behalf of a prospective purchaser and advising them whether it is a suitable buy. This procedure takes about an hour and a half and this horse passes it examination.

Afternoon surgery is busy and we have a couple of extras to see. One is a rabbit which is having difficulty eating and is booked in tomorrow at Cliff Lane for an anaesthetic to trim its back teeth.

I call in on the way home to collect fish and chips for the family, and finish the evening tasting and bottling this year's crop of home-made liqueurs. Plum brandy comes out on top followed by blackberry whiskey.


Morning surgery is fully booked and includes a possible hyperthyroid cat which I admit for further investigation.

After a quick stop at Cliff Lane, no equine visits today means I have time to visit Brantham surgery to view ongoing building work to expand the kennelling and operating facilities.

Afternoon surgery includes a diabetic dog that need a blood glucose check,and a cat with a blocked bladder which is admitted at Cliff Lane.

I return home at about 6.30pm for a quick snack then drove to Uxbridge to collect my middle son from Brunel University, I arrive home at about 10.45pm after an exhausting drive around the M25.


Morning appointments begin at 8.15am at Ellenbrook on Saturday and run through until 10.00am with an open surgery between 10.30-11.30am.

My colleagues and I see about 30 patients between us and finish about 11.45am.

I am on call over the weekend, and I have one in-patient to monitor at Cliff Lane, which I send home on Sunday evening.

I am called out to stitch up a dog which has been involved in a fight, and to see a constipated cat. The weekend on call stays fairly quiet with two or three telephone enquires.