Farewell Sid

As we bid farewell to Chris (Sid) Parker at the end of this month, we wish him well in his retirement and take a look back and reflect on his career and how vetting has changed.

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For some of you, the news of Sid’s retirement after 37 years will be a surprise, for others it’ll feel like it’s been imminent for at least the last ten years. There have been false rumours – three years ago, we were informed by a client that Sid had been sacked, and none of the Markeaton staff will forget the day we thought Sid had died of appendicitis – but the time has finally come to say goodbye (and thankfully, from neither sacking nor death).

Knowing Sid is a bit like knowing a whirlwind. His boundless energy, enthusiasm and zest for life can’t help but make a lasting impression on you, and his kindness, thoughtfulness and cheerfulness make him a delight to work with and to be around. He’s dedicated, inspirational and hilarious, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to know him.

Thank you for all that you are, all that you stand for, and for being such a great vet, colleague, mentor, boss and friend. All the very, very best for your retirement.

Straight From The Horse’s Mouth: Q&A With Sid

Anyone who’s spent time with Sid will know his love of storytelling. Sid answers a few questions for us below:

Can you tell us about some of the happiest moments of your career?

  • Coming out of church 30 years ago on my wedding day to find an honour guard of 30 farmers lining the church path with rectal gloves and pitch forks.
  • Being lovingly and politely displaced in the practice by some of the many excellent vets whose careers I have enjoyed watching develop and blossom.
  • Some of the weird surgical jobs, particularly the sheep brain surgery. To be able to delve inside a living brain, remove a cyst and then see the animal stand up and walk in a straight line (it had been circling) and start eating – great!
  • Watching a student’s face when they actually find an ovary or hear a DA ping!
  • I still love putting the jigsaw pieces in place, asking that last ‘stupid’ question and solving the ‘odd unusual case’. It is a sad dichotomy of large animal vetting that it does rely on building up caseload and experience. Just when you’ve probably seen most things, age and the various acquired injuries catch up on you and curtail the career. I still really enjoy the surgery, but I can’t see to thread the b!@#^* needle!

And the saddest?

The many deaths – old farmer friends who helped me as a young new graduate, and my three business partners; Tony (Thompstone), David (Bell) and James (Hollingworth). I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.

Any particularly funny incidents you’d like to share?

Too many to mention! So many practical jokes played in the first few years that would have got people struck off now. I did enjoy watching one of the least favourite students have a horrible moment when Mr Gilman’s parlour gate took on a life of its own when he had one leg either side, 30 seconds after he had refused to listen to instructions in its use!

And any particularly embarrassing ones?

Again, numerous, but one that comes to mind was listening to a horse owner describe how useless a vet was, who had examined a horse while it was away on loan and declared it unfit. The owner wanted me to give a second opinion. Only on going to examine the horse, which had now been returned to its rightful owner, did
I realise that I was the vet who had seen it the first time at the other address. Much to the owner’s annoyance I said I thought the other vet was an excellent chap and agreed with his diagnosis!

Finally, is there any parting advice for farmers that you’d like to give?

  • We are in business to cure the sick, not raise the dead!
  • Two broken wooden pallets tied together with string are not a cattle crush.
  • There is no such thing as ‘immaculate conception’. The cow that has not been seen bulling, that we scan and find in calf, has definitely been served by something!
  • Sheep die!

37 Years Of Vetting

Sid’s built up an impressive tally of clinical achievements, and has a particular flair for unusual surgeries. Here are some of his highlights:

  • Removing a cyst from a sheep’s brain (he’s never had so much fun with a Black & Decker)!
  • Open heart surgeries on cows with wires (unsuccessful but fascinating)!
  • Ovarian cyst/tumour removals
  • Amputations of extra limbs of calves and lambs
  • Extracting bolus guns from rumens
  • Partial laryngotomies on calves (the ‘Sid technique’ for laryngeal abscesses)!
  • Removing slug bait from a rumen or two
  • Marsupialising a cow’s pelvic abscess
  • Thousands of caesareans, calvings and LDAs (Sid introduced the Utrecht left-sided LDA technique to the practice – before this they used two vets, one each side)
  • Rectal examinations on approximately one million cattle (no wonder he has shoulder trouble)!
  • Altogether, a grand total of 8 years on night duty!


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