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History of Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic

Friars Moor Vets 60 years in the community - established 19572017 was Our 60th anniversary

Here is an article from the  Blackmore Vale Magazine (March 31, 2017 issue) to which we have added some photos from the early 1980s:

Local vet practice celebrates 60 years of supporting the community

Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic is celebrating being part of the Blackmore Vale community for 60 years.

In 1957 Norman Coles set up his own veterinary practice working from ‘Hamwood’ the family bungalow on Manston Road in Sturminster Newton. Although much of his work focused on farm animals, Norman found time to accommodate small animal surgeries in his converted garage. He was joined by Jim Ferguson (known as Mr Fergie) the same year and by Ron Thrift in 1959.

Jim Ferguson, Dorothy Coles, Lynn, Norman Coles

Jim Ferguson, Dorothy Coles, Lynn, Norman Coles

Vets in those days were very much ‘all rounders’, dealing with cattle, horses, sheep and pigs in the morning and returning to deal with the smaller creatures in the afternoons.

Jane and James Thrift (Ron’s children) remember the practice being very much like an episode from James Herriot’s ‘All Creatures Great and Small’; with meals and surgeries revolving around broadcasts of ‘The Archers’.

Ron’s stepson, a certain Douglas Adams, would often call Ron to ask for scientific terms and advice for his upcoming radio play, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’.

Colin Fell and Mike Perry were welcome additions to the expanding practice in 1963 and 1973 respectively. The vets were very involved in the Sturminster farming community and the famous weekly cattle market, where Mike would do inspections every Monday.

Mike Perry

Mike Perry

Large animal work at this time was not for the weak of mind or body. Long plastic gloves used by present day vets for rectal examinations had not yet been invented, so a strong bare arm and sensitive fingers were all that were needed for examining a cow internally (unfortunate if one had a social engagement that evening…). Modern calving jacks, an essential piece of equipment to aid in difficult births, were not used until the 1980s so calvings could be tricky – again requiring those strong arms and lots of stamina.

1981 saw the opening of a purpose built surgery on the corner of Manston Road and Friars Moor. At this point the practice name was changed from Coles and Partners to Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic. Tony Burch saw practice with Coles and Partners as a vet student and joined the practice in the late 1970s, followed by Roland Stibbard in 1987. Both Tony and Roland have recently retired, after many years at the practice.

Colin Fell, Lynn, Tony Burch

Colin Fell, Lynn, Tony Burch

Since 1957, the practice has grown and developed to support the needs of farmers as well as pets and their owners. Its expanded from one vet and his wife to a busy modern practice employing a dedicated team of 49 local people, including 20 vets, at branches in Sturminster, Shaftesbury and Blandford. It’s now a large local business but continues to work hard to keep the friendly, caring ethos and community spirit so important to Norman Coles back in 1957.

Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic’s official celebrations begin on 1st April, the day on which Norman Coles signed the agreement to set up the practice back in 1957. An exciting prize draw with 60 prizes was held for all clients – the top prize was a £250 voucher for Plumber Manor.

Lynn, Ron Thrift, Barbara

Lynn, Ron Thrift, Barbara

Entries for the draw can be made from Monday 19th June, and the draw will be held after the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show where the Friars Moor Vets two stands will be decked out in vintage style, with displays of veterinary equipment dating from the 1950s onwards.

  • If you have memories or even photos of the practice or its vets/staff in years gone by, Friars Moor Vets would love to hear from you. Call 01258 472314 or [contact us here on the website].

Visit and for more fun facts and information about the 60th anniversary celebrations.

Company profile: More about Friars Moor Vets

Source: Blackmore Vale Magazine, March 31, 2017


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I can’t praise the practice enough… If you have yet to choose a vet to entrust your beloved pets, or farm animals to – look no further!!
Haydie Mansfield