My association and that of my family with Tim Brodrick MRCVS, local vet and unrivalled character, goes back all the way to the early 1970’s when he was so supportive of the opening of our Boarding Kennels & Cattery in Iden. He became a family friend, treating all sorts of creatures for us, ranging from chickens and parrots to donkeys and goats as well as carrying out health checks and assessments of the thousands of animals that came to us for re-homing. His was a reassuring and kindly presence, gentle and compassionate with even the most terrified and unlikely of pets we had taken in. After being his chief babysitter in my teens, I was overwhelmed to be offered out of the blue, the opportunity to work with him as a Nursing Assistant, freeing me from the dreadful tedium of the Banking industry I was involved in at the time.
Working for Tim was marvellous. The practice had a solid farming base in those days and I often went on visits to assist with all sorts of large animal work. Afterwards we would head back to the practice and Tim, driving with one hand and waving his pipe around with the other would instruct me in the ways of the countryside. He taught me about the bird life of the Romney Marsh and from him I learned how to judge the age of hedges. How many people can boast such knowledge?
Tim would dictate his notes whilst he was driving too, using the newly invented Hand Dictaphone, but he was easily distracted by what he saw and frequently I would be typing up notes about a de-horning or a milk fever to have him interject with ‘Good Lord – was that a Lesser spotted woodpecker’ or ‘Damn Farmer XYZ – How many times have I told him to fix those fences.’ It made transcription duties very entertaining.
It was in the early eighties that we saw the emergence of a new and deadly virus affecting dogs, especially puppies. This was Parvo Virus and it was Tim Brodrick working with Glasgow University who identified a vaccine that could be effective against it, albeit unlicensed for use in canines at that time. Tim decided to hell with caution and trialled the vaccine anyway as Parvo was threatening to become a real problem in certain local areas. Such was the trust pet owners held in his expertise, hundreds of them attended the surgery over a week or so, queuing up the drive and along Cinque Ports Street to get their pets protected. Tim may well have averted a horrible epidemic by his courageous action.
On a lighter note, I have to mention the unorthodox methods Tim had for Debt collection. One Publican was delighted to welcome Tim and some of his staff to a slap up lunch until after three courses each, Tim told him he would be knocking the cost off what was owed to the surgery. Another farmer paid his debt in the form of a barrel of fermented apple juice. This stood in the drug store, having brown sugar and raisins added for several months until the resulting brew was absolutely lethal!
Tim retired from Veterinary work in the early nineties and split his time between houses in Spain and Camber, eventually returning to live in Playden with his family, close to where he had grown up. His is still a household name throughout Rye and the local area and rightly so. He was a gorgeous man with a massive and passionate heart! He will be missed!
Photo: library image