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
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