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A Warrington vet who hails from South Africa and once helped sedate a lion has been appointed as a new divisional partner for an independent veterinary group.
Pieter de Villiers, one of the lead vets at Beech House Veterinary Surgery, was born and raised in Potchefstroom, a town in South Africa’s North-West province.
He has been named as a small animal divisional partner for Willows Veterinary Group – an independent organisation run by vets – which operates 24 small animal practices, a referral veterinary hospital, two equine centres and a five-office farm practice across Cheshire and into Greater Manchester, the Wirral and Staffordshire.
He qualified as a vet in 1990 from Pretoria University in Gauteng Province and part of his earlier career in South Africa was spent working for international animal health giant Virbac in a marketing role which saw him working with keepers in the region’s game reserves.
The 50 year old recalled the time he was involved in a night time mission to catch a lion and said: “You do feel apprehensive when you are involved in catching a lion. The keepers play sounds of a lion eating to attract them.”
He then explained how the animal is then sedated with a dart gun from a distance so that game keepers can assess the animal’s health safely, taking samples for further analysis and if necessary tagging them for future identification.
His career in the UK started when de Villiers was offered a good job opportunity in North Wales.
He had been touring England and Wales with his wife on their second visit to the UK.
He said: “We had come to St Andrews in Scotland the year before for my wife to attend a geography workshop and had travelled round a bit and liked what we saw.
“During our return trip, on holiday, I visited a few veterinary practices to look at possible job opportunities. A practice in North Wales was desperate for me to start as soon as possible and I was more than happy to apply for the necessary visas. In fact we were due to be on a flight back to South Africa the following day but we decided to postpone it and give a new life in the UK a go. We have been here for 14 years now!
“Believe it or not, we like the weather. We love to see the change in seasons which if you live in Pretoria, you don’t have. It can get a bit cold and wet sometimes but we have adapted.”
He added: “It’s a huge privilege to be asked to be a small animal divisional partner for Willows Veterinary Group. As a group, it has a very positive, team feeling and there is a very strong emphasis on client service and the best interests of our patients which is very important to me.
“It will give me the opportunity to develop personally and as a veterinarian. I am looking forward to contributing to its continued success.”