COVER Su­per­vet Noel Fitz­patrick chats to Yours

With a mem­oir set to be pub­lished and a ground-break­ing au­tumn tour about to be­gin, we look at how TV Su­per­vet Noel Fitz­patrick’s early years gave him a pas­sion for an­i­mals

YOURS (UK) - - Inside - By Ali­son James

While we’ve taken telly vets to our hearts be­fore, no an­i­mal doc­tor comes close to the love, af­fec­tion and to­tal awe be­stowed on Pro­fes­sor Noel Fitz­patrick, the world-class neuro-orthopaedic vet­eri­nary sur­geon and TV Su­per­vet. The fact that he’s tall, dark, hand­some and supremely twinkly with a warm Ir­ish lilt to his voice cer­tainly works in his favour. But it is his in­cred­i­ble em­pa­thy for an­i­mals, work ethic, pi­o­neer­ing sur­gi­cal tech­niques and use of an­i­mal pros­thet­ics that re­ally wow us. Just how did he get to be so gifted and in­no­va­tive about the treat­ment of sick and in­jured an­i­mals? It seems it all stems from a seed planted in his child­hood. “I grew up on a farm and al­ways had a nat­u­ral affin­ity with an­i­mals, a grav­i­ta­tion. It’s where I learned that an­i­mals in our lives show us why we are hu­man at all, why we care and why we love,” Noel has said.

And it was also see­ing an­i­mals in tragic sit­u­a­tions when he was child that had a deep im­pact on him.

“I re­mem­ber vividly los­ing a lamb on a frosty night when I was 11. I was on the night­shift look­ing after the sheep, it

was about 2am and I dis­cov­ered a ewe lamb­ing in the drain be­low the wa­ter level. I de­liv­ered the first lamb and it was al­ready dead. I de­liv­ered the sec­ond one and was run­ning through the field with it when it took its last breath. I felt help­less. Like I wasn’t strong enough, not clever enough. I re­mem­ber vividly, ly­ing in the frosty field, look­ing at the bright stars and I felt ‘The uni­verse is so big, I'm just a tiny speck here, can I make a dif­fer­ence?’ ”

It was to an­i­mals, too, that Noel turned for friend­ship when he had a hard time at school. “As a child, I was bul­lied to hell,” he has re­called. “I had no hu­man friends up to the ages of 11 or 12 – the sheep and cat­tle were my friends. And the farm sheep­dog called Pi­rate. He didn’t have any friends ei­ther, so we had each other. He was my pal for years. I’d make up sto­ries to tell him about Vet Man – a su­per­hero I in­vented when I was about 10 who saved all the an­i­mals in the world. He could solve all the prob­lems of the an­i­mal world and sprin­kle his magic bionic dust on ev­ery­thing to fix them.”

Noel ar­rived at sec­ondary school hardly able to read or write. But it was here where he was in­tro­duced to bi­ol­ogy and ev­ery­thing fit­ted into place. “At that mo­ment, I was cer­tain what I was here for. I knew I had sol­i­dar­ity with an­i­mals, com­pan­ion­ship of pur­pose. I was al­ways go­ing to be a vet.”

Noel’s ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated mem­oirs, Lis­ten­ing to the An­i­mals: Be­com­ing The Su­per­vet, are pub­lished on Oc­to­ber 18. By then – in ad­di­tion to his full-on ‘day job’ oper­at­ing on an­i­mals at Fitz­patrick Re­fer­rals, the world-renowned, sta­teof-the-art spe­cial­ist prac­tice in Sur­rey he set up in 2005 – he will be right in the mid­dle of his first na­tion­wide tour, Wel­come to My World.

“The idea came about from all the let­ters I re­ceive from chil­dren about their an­i­mals,” he re­cently ex­plained. “I get let­ters from kids all the time. They say they love their dog and here are 27 ques­tions for you. I don’t have time to an­swer their 27 ques­tions, not if I get 100 of those let­ters, which I do. But now, in the show, I can an­swer most of them. I also want to com­mu­ni­cate some­thing good in the world. I want to make a show about love and hope and find­ing hope through the love of an an­i­mal.”

As no live an­i­mals will be join­ing Noel on tour – not even his own beloved bor­der ter­rier Kiera – how will he achieve this?

Speak­ing about the tour Noel has said: “We are go­ing to cre­ate the fu­ture of medicine in front of peo­ple. The au­di­ence will come with me into a med­i­cal time ma­chine via vir­tual re­al­ity. The au­di­ence will see what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel. I want to give peo­ple a front row seat in­side my mind. In my head, they’re all sit­ting be­side me as I op­er­ate. If I could bring them all on stage, I would. I want to an­swer most of the ques­tions I get asked by young and old alike. We are go­ing to show them the fu­ture be­fore it hap­pens – with the aid of our Bionic Bunker. I’m be­side my­self with ex­cite­ment about the bunker, be­cause I will be the bloke in there having all the fun. I’m like a child with a crayon about to draw his first pic­ture. Re­gard­less of how cyn­i­cal we adults have be­come, I’m still an 11-yearold in my head!”

Noel (50) also wants to demon­strate that chang­ing the med­i­cal world is not without its prob­lems.

“It’s not all a bed of roses,” he says, “and you’ll get to see that up close and per­sonal in a way that I’ve never had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain be­fore. It’s a deeply per­sonal jour­ney for me and for any­one who ever had a mas­sive dream. It’s lit­er­ally Wel­come to my World in all its joy, sad­ness and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. I’d like the show to be an an­ti­dote to all the ter­ri­ble things that are go­ing on in the world. I hope it’ll make peo­ple laugh, as well as in­spire and ed­u­cate them. If we can get peo­ple to trans­late the love they have for a dog or a cat into a wider pic­ture of car­ing about their friends de­spite colour or creed, and again push that into car­ing about wild an­i­mals and the earth around them, it can only make the world a bet­ter place.”

We couldn’t agree more…

‘I want to make a show about love and hope and find­ing hope through the love of an an­i­mal’

noel wants to show how an an­i­mal’s love is so in­spi­ra­tional

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