The History Of Christchurch Veterinary Surgery
Christchurch Veterinary Surgery is one of the oldest continuously running veterinary practices in Ipswich. Its roots date back to 1940's post-war Britain, where Mary Jacques, reputedly the first female vet to own a veterinary practice in the country, settled in Ipswich. She established a practice on St. Helen's St at the site presently occupied by Gee's Court, near the Regent Theatre. The practice was a breath of fresh air to the local community, where pets and farm animals had previously been treated by farriers and other un-qualified people.
The practice flourished, mainly as a "James Herriot" styled mixed practice, with a predominantly large animal (horses and farm animals) emphasis. In the early 1960's, Mike Lingwood joined Mary and eventually took over the running of the business. The practice continued to expand under Mike's direction and by the late 60's he had taken on a young vet, Tony Doncaster, to assist with the ever- increasing work-load following Mary's departure.
It was clear that by the early 1970's, especially with the town's demand for small animal (cats and dogs) services, larger premises were required. In 1973, Mike sourced a property, just a short walk away on Christchurch St. The building had been used for several years as a doctors' surgery; many older folk in Ipswich still remember this! This is, of course, the building where Christchurch Veterinary Surgery now resides.
Mike and Tony were very popular vets. Some recall with affection, queues of people with their pets, passing from the waiting room out of the front door and up Christchurch St almost to Withipoll St. Sadly, in 1981 Mike died from cancer and the running of the practice was left to Tony. He ran the practice for the next twenty years until his retirement. The practice declined somewhat both as Tony's work capacity diminished and as rival practices had opened up across town.
Upon his retirement, Tony sold the practice to Shane and Charlotte Morrison, the present owners, in 2001. By this stage the practice had developed (effectively) a purely small animal base. Shane came to Ipswich with post-graduate qualifications in surgery and also a reputation which served to re-invigorate the practice and save it from its decline.
With years of dedicated hard work and persistence on the part of Charlotte and Shane, Christchurch vets was transformed once again into a thriving entity. The practice was fully renovated in the early 00's with state of the art equipment. Not only did the practice serve the local community, it also served the wider community of East Anglia, as Shane's reputation for surgery spread far and wide. Referrals for procedures were received from vets as far afield as London and Cambridge.
In 2011, the referral side of the practice had grown so much that a new dedicated referral practice was built on Tuddenham Rd, near Westerfield House, 1.5 miles to the north. Thus, the regular, or first opinion branch of the practice effectively separated from the referral practice. The first opinion practice remains at Christchurch St. The referral practice, with its ultra modern facilities including MRI scanning, digital radiography and advanced surgical capacity al la "Super Vet", remains a devoted sister practice of the first opinion practice on Christchurch St.