Featured below are the main members of the clinic team:
Sarah Middleton MRCVS: Vet and Practice Partner
I graduated from The University of Liverpool not wanting to deal with anything smaller than a Shetland pony! After a very intensive year in mixed practice in rural Richmond I decided to hang up the wellies and keep the large animals as a hobby and focus on small animals.
I then spent three and a half years working on the North East coast in a small animal practice where I worked mainly at the branch surgery in Seaham. This enabled me to gain valuable experience of building relationships with clients and coping as the sole vet – sometimes a little scary, one instance being the Chihuahua presented with her eye hanging from the socket. I’m happy to say that all went well and everything was restored to its rightful place!
I particularly like cats and have completed my General Practitioner Certificate in Feline Practice in July 2008 having successfully passed the written exam and case report. Achieving this qualification was very interesting as I have gained important insights into feline medicine and behaviour.
Together with my partner Paul, we have 2 rescue cats – Merlin who I obtained as a stray in Richmond in 2003 and Marmalade who joined us in August 2007. I have a horse called Victor who I try to ride as often as I can – not easy when trying to run a practice.
Paul Proctor MRCVS: Vet & Practice Managing Partner
I was born and brought up in Morpeth, Northumberland, where my parents still live. After doing A levels at King Edwards in Morpeth I went to Liverpool vet school and spent 5 years there learning all about animals, beer and Liverpool hopefully in that order.
I have always been interested in Cats and Horses and in fact actually joined the Feline Advisory Bureau in 1983 an early member.
I then entered mixed practice in Malton North Yorkshire, and Hexham Northumberland where I spent 4 and 3 years respectively. The work load was 60% small and 40% large, including doing all the Zoo work at Flamingo land as it was then in North Yorkshire. This was definitely different, from rasping Zebra’s teeth, sedating tigers for export to Romania and chasing an escaped Orang-Utan, it shouldn’t happen to a vet as Mr Herriot would say.
I then spent the next 3 years in mainly small animal practice including work in a specialist small animal hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. However due to the senior partner of a small mixed practice having a severe car crash I was asked to run a country practice in Corbridge and one thing led to another and I started up a 1 1/2 man mainly large animal (cattle and Horses )practice with another vet which grew to become a 80% equine, 7 vets practice with full surgical facilities in Northumberland.
However after nearly 17 years here I was offered the chance to follow the second of my passions cats and be involved with Sarah setting up a cats only practice on the borders of Durham, Sunderland and Tyne and Wear at Fencehouses. Sarah and I always felt cats had a rough deal at traditional vets as most practices are canine orientated rather than feline specialists. Cats are so different we felt they really deserved their own cat specific vet practice providing a high standard of feline care in a cat friendly stress free environment. We started to imagine what it would be like with no barking dogs, no smells and every member of staff being a cat lover.
A cat that has to sit in a waiting room full of noisy dogs is likely to become very stressed, and this affects it in many ways. The cat is more difficult to examine, has increased heart rate and blood pressure and lab tests (eg blood sugar levels) are also commonly affected. It is also important to remember that the most stressful time for many cats is recovering from surgery or being hospitalised in the clinic for medical treatment. Sarah and I feel in this situation cats should be recovering in cat only wards free of strange smells and noise, and this too is essential to encouraging a more rapid recovery from illness. It also makes for a more stress-free time for the vets and owners, as remember if the cats are not stressed their humans are stress free too!
A wonderful example of this dream was reinforced when we went to have a look around the new small animal hospital in Liverpool during Feb 2009. We got to see the cat unit with a resident Siamese cat on its back and looking as relaxed as only cats can in his hospital cage. All was peace and quiet with no smells at all in the feline unit. However we then walked 20 yards down the corridor into the canine kennels and hospitalisation area and our senses were overwhelmed by barking dogs and the strong odour of dog faeces and urine, despite the standards of care and cleaning being very high. Cats and dogs inhabit 2 different worlds and we hope to have recreated a stress free utopian cat environment at our new clinic 😉 for both cats and clients.
Dr Lucie Allcutt DVM MRCVS – Vet
I moved to the UK with my husband Ed and our three cats (Ulla and Cecilia – both tabby moggies, and Odette – a Siamese cross) in 2010 after graduating from the University of Florida, College of veterinary medicine. I am a Florida girl, born and raised in Miami and I grew up in a cat-loving household!
My interest in cats continued to grow as a teenager working at a local veterinary clinic, and throughout my University career I joined feline interest clubs and volunteered with a charity that helped improve the lives of local feral cat populations. It was clear that feline
exclusive practice was where I belonged in the long run.
I have spent the last two and a half years practicing as a GP vet in Watford and am thrilled to join the Simply Cats team! I am particularly interested in the challenges
of caring for older cats (geriatrics), internal medicine and treating dental disease. I plan to spend the next couple of years obtaining an ISFM (International Society for
Feline Medicine) approved qualification in feline medicine as well as finding time to enjoy the County Durham countryside. Apart from cats and the countryside, I am an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, an amateur hula-hooper and crossfit enthusiast.
Kelly Wright RVN: Head Nurse
It always sounds like a cliche, however, here goes, from a young age I’ve always wanted to work with animals. My fondest memories from my childhood were playing vet with my cousin, whereby we would turn my grandmas living room into a busy practice by making our stuffed teddies feel better. When I was five I got my first kitten, Pixie, and she led a dog’s life as I pestered the life out of her (constantly picking her up) – to the extent that she became my dad’s cat! Many years later I now have two rescue cats (Shearer and Frankie), again Shearer prefers my Dad (grrrr) but Frankie is 100% mine. She isn’t a conventional cat and for some reason prefers to come back in the house by climbing on the garden fence, jumping on the conservatory and then coming in through my bedroom window!!
I began my professional career via Kirkley hall college whereby I studied a 2 year course in animal management, which gave me the foundation stones for my subsequent nurse training. This followed a circuitous route via Newcastle, Preston and back to Newcastle and my qualification as a Registered Veterinary Nurse. After 12 years working in a mixed practice working up the ladder to finally being appointed head nurse of my branch, I was offered my dream job at Simply Cats and the new chapter begins …….
Amy Richardson: RVN
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to work with animals, and as a child insisted in pushing my teddy cats around in toy push chairs instead of dolls! In my last year of school I decided it was time for a Saturday job, so after thinking about paper rounds, working in retail.. I got a job in an aquatic and reptiles shop!
Starting my career, I worked in small animal practice, while I went to Myerscough School of Veterinary Nursing, where I graduated with a distinction in my degree in Veterinary Nursing. Since qualifying I have also completed a Certificate in Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Species, and hope to go on to do a Certificate in Feline Nursing, as anyone who knows me, knows I love cats!
My best friend in life is my little cat Prudence. She is a sphynx cat who I was incredibly lucky to rescue a few years ago, when she was 6 years old. She was underweight and in a sorry little state, and from spending the first night with her, she bonded to me as though she just knew I was supposed to be her Mam! We share our home with 3 other family cats- Evie, Jasper and Peanut, our newest addition, a rocket powered sphynx kitten! There’s never a dull moment in our house!
In my spare time I love travelling, and have just completed a 6 month stint in Sri Lanka in 2015, where I lived and volunteered for a charity called WECare Worldwide, doing neutering and vaccination programmes, and treating as many sick and injured street dogs as we possibly could! I have since become a member of the Charity’s WECare committe, and am still very involved in trying to better the lives of the Sri Lankan street dogs (and cats too!). I am also a big fan of snowboarding and surfing whenever I can, whichever best suits the weather, as well as photography and movie making, and anything involved with having as much of an adventure as I can!
Stacey Ferguson: Animal Nursing Assistant
Since leaving school in 1993 I have worked in a variety of jobs… sewing factories, petrol stations, shops and canine hydrotherapy to name but a few.
I’ve always loved animals and been around them since I can remember, so when the opportunity to begin working with them arose I jumped at the chance!
I am hoping to begin an animal management course shortly in order to further my knowledge.
As well as cats and dogs I have also been lucky enough in the past to own bearded dragons, turtles, tropical fish and a lobster named Lobby!
I am currently owned by 3 cats called Mich, Lucy and Berry and also 2 dogs called Kale & Stanley.
I am proud to say all my animals are “second hand”!
In my spare time I enjoy camping, especially in Scotland, reading, anything to do with fantasy and watching movies, preferably scary ones.
I am delighted to be given this opportunity to work at simply cats and look forward to learning more about our feline friends.
Caroline Pallister: Head Receptionist
Born and educated in Bishop Auckland I left school not knowing ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’! After drifting along in catering, factory work and exhibition & display graphic design I eventually found my vocation in animal care at a local dog and cat rescue centre.
Having always had pet cats at home whilst growing up (and garden snails in a seed propagator much to my mother’s horror!) it seemed the perfect direction to take.
After five years, literally starting at the bottom up I worked my way into the reception area, adopting a total of three cats on the way, Sandy, otherwise known as Dubby (that’s the word ‘chubby’ in disguise), Katie and fluffy Maisey. Dubby has since passed away, so I’m down to two 🙁
Being involved on a regular basis with a visiting vet made me realise that this was a new direction I could take.
The opportunity to work at SimplyCats arose and there was no turning back!!
In my spare time I play bass guitar in a local band called ‘Front Street‘ based in Shotley Bridge near Consett. Katie cat loves to work her claws on my amp/speaker as its perfectly covered in ‘cat-friendly’ carpet!!!!
Carol Wilson: Receptionist
Since leaving school I have always done office work, but my ideal job has always been to work with animals.
I have owned horses and dogs for 45 years and have also owned various other pets, including cats. My passion for horses has enabled me to participate in various equestrian events, from all the Pony Club classes to cross-country, driving and in-hand showing.
Between myself and my husband we presently own one ‘Welsh Section C’ mare and one ‘Section D’ mare. We have shown ‘C’ mares in-hand succesfully over the years. We also have three very loving whippets who do love their home comforts!
Gill Bradley: Practice Manager
From a child I have always loved animals – even to the extent of refusing to eat meat from my teens, much to my parents confusion. Although we always had dogs and small fury critters as pets, it wasn’t until I was an adult, I had the privilege of owning a horse.
I swapped my car for Smiler, a 16 2 thoroughbred. He passed away at the ripe old age of 29 years.
I currently have a 31 year old Welsh cross Anglo Arab called Rascal. I only stopped riding him this year – he was just a bit too slow on our geriatric potters and its easier to walk him in hand now whenever he feels the urge to explore. He was unfortunately recently put to sleep of old age and though now without a horse I am still looking 😉
I have two lovely cats at home. Mother and daughter (Meg and Lucy) who I adopted from a skip.
Our Cat Advocates:
This is someone who has been nominated to be responsible for maintaining ‘Cat Friendly’ principles within the practice. They are people with a good understanding of cats and an empathetic, caring approach.
They will be available to answer any questions a cat owner may have along with providing an excellent level of care based on many years of experience working with and owning cats as pets.
At SimplyCats we have two cat advocates;
Dr Lucie Allcutt DVM MRCVS Veterinary Surgeon and Sarah Middleton BVSc MRCVS Veterinary Surgeon