Published: December 3, 2021 | Updated: December 3, 2021

Vetsmiths celebrates its first anniversary with team of 11 and just under 1,000 happy clients

Chris and Sam Devlin, Owners and Directors, Vetsmiths, with Kipster, their Border Terrier. Picture: Ian J Weldon Photography.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

What a first 12 months.

A year ago today, November 30, 2020, Chris and Sam Devlin launched their new independent vets in Wimborne.

A long-held vision became reality when the doors of Vetsmiths were opened to the first clients.

As with starting any business it was something of a gamble – and an expensive one.

A total refurbishment of their Grade II listed West Borough premises, in the heart of Wimborne, cost £600,000.

It included state of the art equipment, a boutique hotel style reception area and luxury accommodation with individual heat pads and mood lighting for pets having to stay with Vetsmiths for the day.

And now, a year later?

  • Just under 1,000 registered clients with some coming from as far afield as Swanage, based purely on recommendation.
  • A team of 11.
  • Exceeding its financial projections at this stage.
  • And the practice’s first award – Best Independent Vets in Dorset in the Southern Enterprise Awards 2021.

Sam, 53, said: “Being independent is what it’s all about to us.

“It’s the only way we can meet our client’s incredibly high expectations of us.

“We’re not tied to a bigger group and told what drugs we should or shouldn’t be using.

“This gives us the autonomy to tailor the treatment we give to each pet individually, rather than a one size fits all approach.”

Chris, 50, pictured left, who qualified as a veterinary surgeon at Bristol University in 1994, said: ‘We were always about the ‘Wow’ factor – you know, a bit like if Carlsberg did veterinary centres!

“We wanted to create a safe space where owners and their pets felt comfortable, stress free and enjoyed coming to visit the vets.

“We think we’ve got it spot on.”

Chris and Sam are owners and directors of Vetsmiths.

They funded the surgery through a combination of their own funds from the sale of a previous business and a business loan with Lloyds Bank.

Vetsmiths now has more than 2,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while the 60+ reviews on Google give the practice five stars.

Comments include:

  • “One of the best vets around, always so caring, knowledgeable and helpful.”
  • “This is a fantastic practice. Everything you want and would hope for from a vet. So lucky to have this practice in Wimborne.”
  • “I have never been to such a welcoming and professional vets in my life. I was very impressed. Nothing was too much trouble.”
  • “Very impressed, what a lovely caring and knowledgeable modern vets practice.”

Flashback to our story last year.

The past 12 months has also seen Vetsmiths became a Silver status accredited Cat Friendly Clinic with the International Society of Feline Medicine.

The accolade was awarded within four months of opening.

The practice has a separate cat waiting area and kennels while the team understand how stressful it can be for cats visiting the vets.

Baskets can be covered over and cats given a spritz of Feliway (a calming pheromone) to help with stress if needed.

Vet Lorna Kavanagh, Vetsmith’s cat advocate, pictured left, strives to ensure the experience for cats and their owners is maintained to the highest level at all times.

Of the hundreds of cases successfully handled in the past year, the team said one, in particular, stood out.

Despite losing his leg, and having a difficult recovery, Boo never once stopped enjoying his visit to the practice with his tail always wagging.

Chris said: “This is what we do this job for.”

Asked how quickly the past year had gone, Chris added: “Quicker than a rat up a drainpipe!”