Stockport Practice Supporting Veterinary Futures
A vet practice in Stockport is doing its part to support the next generation of veterinary professionals, by funding one of its client care advisor dreams of becoming a vet.
Joint venture partners at Vets4Pets Stockport, Kobus Rautenbach and Sharon Blundell, are providing their colleague, Dan Jones, with an annual bursary for his five-year course at the University of Liverpool Vet School.
Dan started at Vet School in September, with the bursary providing vital financial support to him.
“When I was originally choosing my degree for university, I didn’t think at the time I had the grades to get a place on the veterinary medicine course,” said Dan.
“But it was something I was always interested in and passionate about, and so once I finished my Zoology degree, I travelled to Mauritius to work for a wildlife charity for two years to gain experience.
“I knew that I would need to gain even further experience if I wanted to try for the veterinary degree, so once I returned to my home in Stockport I applied for some work experience at a local laboratory, as well as Vets4Pets Stockport.
“During my two-week placement at Vets4Pets Stockport, I observed consults and theatre, which was brilliant. Both Kobus and Sharon were incredibly welcoming and were happy to answer any questions I had.
“Unfortunately, I was made redundant from my job at the laboratory, but much to my delight, Kobus and Sharon decided to take me on as a full-time client care advisor.
“I then applied for my veterinary degree and got my offer accepted from the University of Liverpool.
“But, as a graduate who had mainly been carrying out volunteer work for the past few years, I wasn’t applicable for a loan and didn’t have many savings, which meant it would be a struggle to fund my studies.
“But then Kobus and Sharon pulled me aside one day at work to say they would sponsor my studies, giving me £4,000 a year.
“I was shocked and delighted in equal measure, as it really means the world to me.”
Sharon has been a veterinary nurse for 35 years, working in practices from London to Lancaster over the years, whilst Kobus graduated from the University of Pretoria before eventually moving to the UK where he began working as a locum in a variety of practices.
Sharon opened Vets4Pets Stockport in 2001, and she and Kobus have been joint venture partners at the practice for more than 15 years, where together, they have built the practice into what it is today, offering a high standard of care to their loyal client base.
“We often get a lot of emails through asking for work experience, and unfortunately, we obviously can’t give everyone an opportunity, but Dan stood out as he was clearly very passionate, keen and had spent time gaining experience,” explained Sharon.
“On his two week placement, he was enthusiastic and eager to learn and asked lots of questions. We also had some recently graduated vets on the team that he could talk to and ask advice.
“Even though he was accepted onto his course, we knew he was struggling with funding so spoke to our Support Office about helping him.
“Support Office did the majority of the work and then, we couldn’t wait to tell him when it was all approved. He told us how much it meant to him, which was lovely to hear, and it felt great that we were in a position to be able to help.
“It’s a lot of money to give and not something we take lightly. I’ve been a nurse for 35 years and seen a lot of people wanting to be a vet, but with Dan, he is a great team player, and I could tell how much he wanted to become a vet. We are delighted we could help.
“We think it is important to support the next generation of vets, and we hope this inspires others to do the same.”
Dan will be returning to Vets4Pets Stockport for two week placements every year throughout his five-year course as part of his clinical work experience.
“Without Kobus and Sharon’s help and generous offer, I simply wouldn’t be where I am today; enjoying the first few weeks of my veterinary studies,” continued Dan.
“This is something I have worked hard for and wanted to do for years, so I’m extremely thankful for all the help Kobus, Sharon and the rest of the team at Vets4Pets Stockport have given me.
“They made it all possible for me, and I’m looking forward to coming back and working alongside Kobus and Sharon as part of my degree. I’ve always wanted to help pets and promote animal welfare, so it will be nice to have a more hands-on clinical role this time.
“The role of a client care advisor was perfect, as it allowed me to see the job from a different non-clinical perspective and have a broader view of working in a practice. I got to know the clients and their pets really well, and it helped me learn how to deal with the customer-facing and management side of the business.
“It’s great to be part of a team that recognises passion, pushes you to do your best and are there to help and give you the opportunity to grow.”