Vet nurses toast 30th career milestone after discovering dream role on work experience

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Two colleagues have clocked up 30 years at a veterinary practice in Leeds where their work placements as teenagers fuelled their ambitions to care for animals.

Practice manager Kelly Mann and head nurse Sarah Cottle have both dedicated three decades to Beechwood Vets, where they now lead the team across five branches.

Registered veterinary nurse (RVN) Jane Lamont, who is head nurse at Beechwood Vets’ branch in Beeston, is also celebrating her 20th anniversary with the practice.

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Kelly was just 13 when she volunteered at Beechwood Vets and later accepted a Saturday job there before spending her placement at the branch in Beeston during her apprenticeship in animal management.

Kelly Mann and Sarah Cottle toasting their 30th anniversary at Beechwood Vets in LeedsKelly Mann and Sarah Cottle toasting their 30th anniversary at Beechwood Vets in Leeds
Kelly Mann and Sarah Cottle toasting their 30th anniversary at Beechwood Vets in Leeds

After joining the nursing team in 1994, she qualified four years later as an RVN and was promoted to practice manager in 2004.

Sarah also fell in love with veterinary life following her school placement and secured a Saturday job at the Beeston branch. She later joined and worked with the reception team for nine years before training and qualifying as an RVN in 2005, becoming head nurse at Beechwood Vets years later.

Their 30th anniversary coincides with Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month which is organised by the British Veterinary Nursing Association every May to champion the profession.

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Kelly said: “Beechwood has always been a massive part of my life and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I knew when I was about seven that I wanted to be a vet nurse and I really enjoyed nursing. As time went on, I became more interested in the management side.

“I enjoy running the practice, keeping the team happy and the collaboration of being part of the bigger VetPartners group with the support we have from other practices. VetPartners is a great group to work for - for the support it provides, the caring ethos and I know the opportunities are there if I want them.

“When I started there were about 15 team members working at four sites. We now have more than 60 team members in the practice over five sites.”

Beechwood’s main site is state-of-the-art Temple House in Seacroft which opened in 2022 following a £1.4m investment by VetPartners, the larger veterinary group which owns some of the UK’s most trusted and respected practices including Beechwood Vets.

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The practice’s five sites also include surgeries in Garforth, Chapel Allerton, Beeston and Headingley. As nursing team leader, Sarah enjoys organising the morning list of operations, monitoring anaesthetics, and running nurse clinics as well as doing veterinary acupuncture.

She said: “When I was on my placement, I absolutely loved it and thought ‘this is what I want to do’. I have stayed so long because we have a fantastic team of long-serving members. It is almost like a family, and it is a really happy place to work. We provide a fantastic service which makes every day fulfilling and I love it.

“I love working in theatre, organising the day, the team I work with and the care we provide. I like the challenge of making the day work as we often deal with the unexpected in veterinary care.If I could have my time again I would do it all again.

“VetPartners are very proactive in encouraging continual professional development (CPD). I do a lot of management CPD and VetPartners are very keen for colleagues to progress in areas where they have an interest.”

Anyone interested in a career as a veterinary nurse can contact [email protected]

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