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An evening spent with Joe Inglis.

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The evening featured a talk by Joe Inglis whom many will remember was one of the vets who featured in the long running series, "Vets in Practice". Joe provided a very enjoyable canter through his career and began by telling the large audience of his 12 months experience in Australia prior to embarking on his veterinary degree course. He set sail on a ship to Australia on a journey which lasted some six weeks and worked his passage by scraping rust off the desks of the ship! He celebrated his 18th birthday on the ship. This involved being doused in all the kitchen slops and he arrived in Australia with a shaven head and the smell of food trailing in his wake! His slideshow showed a small corrugated hut which was typical of the accommodation provided in the outback complete with the outside "dunny". Before arriving he had visions of herding the cattle on horseback. However to get about the 79 acre farm he was expected to ride a moped. He was given an afternoon to learn how to do so. He said that his introduction to animal "welfare" Australian style provided a huge learning curve and taught him how not to do things as a British vet! The cattle had their horns removed, were branded, females were spayed and males castrated all with no anaesthetic. He had encountered dogs in England having three ticks whereas some of the dogs in Australia had in excess of 100 ticks. He told the audience that his fears about the worst Australian creatures came true. On one occasion he managed to stop himself short at an outside sink as a deadly snake popped its head up through the plughole! On another occasion, as he was riding his moped he saw at the last moment a large spider's web containing a huge spider the size of his hand. As he drove through it he could feel the spider's web on his face and he looked back only to find that there was no spider hanging in the remainder of the web. Shortly afterwards huge hairy legs began to crawl down from the top of his wide brimmed hat towards his face! Upon Joe's return to England he enrolled on a veterinary degree course at Bristol University. In his final year the BBC arrived expressing an interest to film the vets in training. Half of the year group agreed and the other half did not wish to take part. Joe found his life was played out on camera and the producers were always keen to develop the characters in the story. His romance with fellow student Emma resulted in their Hawaiian wedding being filmed for the series. Sadly their subsequent divorce was also filmed for the programme. When Vets in Practice was filmed he spent a year in a large animal practice, with his principal teaching him how to assist in a calving using a Land Rover! Since Vets in Practice Joe has featured in a number of veterinary programmes on television including regular appearances on Blue Peter and the One Show. Working with both children and animals on live TV was not to be recommended. He also reminisced fondly about the occasion when he was invited to take the lead role as Aladdin in a regional Christmas Panto particularly given that he could not sing, act or dance. He was terrified to perform a solo on stage and is not sure that he would volunteer to perform in a panto again. Joe then diversified into the pet food business and his range of pet foods known as "Vets Kitchen" is stocked in all the well known supermarkets. To publicise the tasty credentials of his pet food he embarked on a 100 mile walk from Cirencester to London eating only his dog food products along the way! He said it was extremely dry to swallow. He managed to resist the temptation of a Sunday lunch as he walked past a pub on the way. On another occasion, again to publicise his pet food he decided he would sail the length of the River Thames in a round vessel akin to a dog bowl. Lacking the appropriate nautical shape, he found the exercise lead to 14 hours of rowing each day and he lost a lot of weight. By doing so he also raised a lot of money for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf. Joe has therefore enjoyed a very varied career. Indeed only last week he had been negotiating with ASDA to stock his pet food, he had opened a new classroom at a village school and had appeared in a television programme as well as providing a very enjoyable talk to us. His priority is still to be a vet as he trained for many years to do so and he is looking forward to setting up a veterinary practice of his own. No doubt one day we can all look forward to reading his autobiography.