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A fond farewell to vet who cared for ‘all creatures, great and small’

PUBLISHED: 15:53 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:03 11 March 2019

North Norfolk's own James Herriot, Ken Gledhill, who has died aged 94.
Photo: Gledhill family

North Norfolk's own James Herriot, Ken Gledhill, who has died aged 94. Photo: Gledhill family

Archant

There was standing room only at Thornage Church, near Holt, when mourners turned out in force to pay tribute to to north Norfolk’s own James Herriot - much-loved vet Ken Gledhill - who has died aged 94.

North Norfolk's own James Herriot, Ken Gledhill, who has died aged 94.
Photo: Gledhill familyNorth Norfolk's own James Herriot, Ken Gledhill, who has died aged 94. Photo: Gledhill family

Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Mr Gledhill trained at the Royal Veterinary College, London, before travelling to India and Burma with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

He began his civilian career in the Devon countryside, meeting his future wife Mary – then a land girl – in a cowshed.

After a brief return to Yorkshire, the couple moved to north Norfolk in the late 1950s, living in the former village rectory at Beeston Regis, before moving to Holt in the 1960s, where they set up a surgery in their house in Grove Lane.

A true English eccentric, he became a familiar figure among local folk and, with his wicker army trunk in the boot, would race around narrow country lanes in his Citroen Dyane wearing his signature hat and sheepskin waistcoat tied round the middle with rope.

Mr Gledhill, who was a keen church-goer and an avid music, poetry and sports fan, was also a popular figure in local pubs, where he often gave professional advice to regulars.

Originally primarily a large animal vet, he looked after local farmers’ sheep, pigs and dairy herds, also occasionally tending to animals at Cromer Zoo.

During the 1970s, his practice expanded and, by the time he retired to Thornage in 1989, he had two partners and employed a team of assistant vets working from surgeries in Holt, Cromer and Wells-next-the-Sea.

David Allison, who shared a practice at Sheringham with Mr Gledhill for many years, said his former partner treated animals - and their owners - with kindness and respect.

“Empathy with owners alongside the actual treatment was his stock in trade,” he remembered. “And, in true Siegfried Farnon fashion, he believed in the pint pot method of accounting, much to the dismay of various book keepers.”

Holt vet Bridget Pearson, who began her career working with Mr Gledhill at his family home, said he was respected by colleagues and clients alike, with animals responding to his “booming” voice.

She added: “Everyone needs an experienced guide to help start them on their professional pathway and Ken was one of the most important mentors in my life.”

Mr Gledhill, who is survived by his three children and four grandchildren, chose the readings and hymns for his funeral before his death and his coffin was topped with his favourite hat.

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