A Short History of Viking Vets


One late summer evening in 1999, a friend of mine Trude Mostue, my husband Andrew and I were sitting daydreaming over a glass of wine and some prawns. Wouldn't it be great to have a veterinary practice? The name would have to be Viking Veterinary Surgeons. We would have a nursery called the Little Vikings, etc. We would probably still be sitting talking about it if it had not been filmed for ‘Vets in Practice’. It soon dawned on us that 8 million viewers would see our ramblings so we thought we better do something about it.

There was just a small matter of me being pregnant again; I still don't know how that happened. Anyway we needed to find a house, preferably somewhere without too many vets. Our eyes fell on Bristol, not that there are few vets but a lot of people live there, including Trude. On our first day of house hunting we found a six-bedroom house with a large enclosed garden and front courtyard. We just fell in love with the large cast iron gates. The house was a mess. We found the house in February and we decided that by hook or by crook we were going to open by 1st August. The first hurdle was planning permission; we tried different strategies to hurry it along e.g. pregnant woman needing help vs blond woman smiling, bu neither seemed to make a huge impact. We sent letters to all neighbours and conservation society. After 90 days we had our planning permit for change of use from a residential house to a veterinary practice with a flat above for us to live in.

Not having a lot of money was also a rather difficult problem, we got some very good feedback from the Royal Bank of Scotland so we thought everything was going to be fine. It took four months of forever moving goalposts until we could secure the house. A lot of people suggested leasing a property, but we would rather own something so we could change it and feel that we were building something permanent.

Our luckiest break came in the form of a fantastic team of builders. Due to the delay in the financial side we did not complete the sale until 30th June. We were still set on opening on 1st August, initially the builders wanted six weeks to do the job we gave them 3 weeks, and they did it! They even turned up early and stayed late. It was truly amazing to see how quickly the surgery changed from being a family house to becoming a veterinary surgery.

Prior to opening we wanted to give everybody who had helped us a bit of a party. This was to take place two days prior to opening. The party was due to start at 2 p.m. this was to avoid having to spend too much money on food. Prior to the party I had to do some carpet laying, I was in a terrible hurry to buy some cheap carpet from IKEA, and when they refused to take my business cheque I stormed out crying, thankfully my husband manage to charm the ladies to let us have the carpet. At 1.30 I was still laying the carpet, the babysitter had failed to arrive, but the local cat charity had turned up with cameras and hundreds of questions. They were under the impression that we were having an open day, which really panicked me thinking we had to feed the 5000 on a few packets of crisps. Trude was having her own crises, being the party organiser she had 1000 balloons to blow up but nobody to do it, she was also panicking about the guests arriving before the ice to cool the drinks down.

We did open on 1st August, and to our great joy people turned up. Our first in-patient was a chicken called Henrietta, she had to stay in a cage outside since we had not been able to get them into the house yet.

Trude Mostue did a lot of filming in the first year, she spent 60 days in the practice in the first ten months. She then decided to leave the practice and concentrate on her film career.

Our head nurse Lisa Strickland (now Cartwright) has been with us since painting shelves in July 2000, she is a rock and is our voice recogniser on the phone.

In 2005 we needed more space so an extension was added on the back of the building. This doubled our practice space and gave us a lot more space upstairs. My two boys have a bedroom each and we have a spare bedroom for visitors.

We have now completed our final extension for this practice. We have added two more consulting rooms to the three we already have. They are dedicated to cats, so they can have a more quiet area for examinations and waiting. The dog reception has also had a face lift. 

Our plan as a family was to move out of the practice after a few years. We have however found that living over the shop has been a great benefit. We are at home when the kids come home from school, and I can pop down in my nighty to check the pets that are saying in over night.

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