Well-known Warwickshire vet who says he would have ‘Avonvale Vets’ running through him like a stick of rock' retires 36 years
A Warwickshire vet is hanging up his scrubs after a long and varied career which has seen him tackle everything from a road trip to Belgium to operate on an ostrich’s toe to looking after the welfare of 12,000 sheep a day.
Mark Taylor retired on April 1 after a 36-year career which took him from his dairy farming background to working as a livestock and small animal vet, before being tempted out of early retirement to become medical director for the primary care estate of one of the UK’s largest vet groups.
Mark, 59, qualified as a vet in 1986 and his early career took him to a mixed animal practice in Lancashire before moving to Banbury.
It was here he undertook regular inspection visits to Banbury Stockyard, a huge livestock market, working alongside the local authority to look after the welfare of the animals.
After switching to small animal practice, Mark moved to Warwickshire-based Avonvale Veterinary Centres in 1997, the start of a 23-year association which led one colleague to say if he was cut open, he would have ‘Avonvale Vets’ running through him like a stick of rock.
He initially intended to retire in autumn 2018 before joining Linnaeus, Avonvale’s parent company.
Mark said: “I’m finally hanging up the scalpel. Initially, I felt quite conflicted as there is still lots to do and things are still changing very rapidly. I will really miss the people I work with at Linnaeus.
“In terms of the future, there are plenty of hobbies to take up and some offers of other work which I will be considering, including a possible role with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
“Avonvale was the first primary care practice to join Linnaeus, which at the time was just Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in Solihull and North Downs Specialist Referrals in Surrey.
"It has grown enormously since then and it has been a huge privilege to be a part of that.”
With such a long career behind him, Mark inevitably has a few tales about his life as a vet.
He said: “I remember well working in Banbury Stockyard, which was the biggest livestock market in Europe at the time.
"It would have something like 12,000 sheep per day coming through it. I’m from a dairy farming background in Cheshire, so it was all quite natural for me.
“While working in Banbury, I remember being sent to Belgium to operate on two ostriches in the double garage of a half-built farm house. One needed an operation on its toe and the other on its neck.”
When Mark joined Avonvale in 1997 it had four branches, expanding to seven by the time he left.
He was based at the Southam clinic, overseeing its expansion and eventual location. He was also heavily involved in the relocation of the flagship Warwick hospital and the opening of the new branch surgery at Stratford.
Mark added: “I’ll remember all of the characters I came across, both clients and vets. I can’t tell you some of the stories I have. But I’ll always remember the level of commitment people showed.”