Vet Group Wants More Support From Islands’ Businesses

More businesses should support the islands’ Vet Support Group.

That was the message from Chairman Bill Wilson at last night’s AGM, where members heard the Duchy of Cornwall, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust and Tresco Estate have signed up for their £500 commercial membership but other significant Scilly companies have turned down their requests for help.

Just £3,000 is still required to pay off the £190,000 cost of the purpose-built surgery and accommodation and Bill hopes the debt will be cleared by June.

The annual membership fees of the 170 supporters will bring in £1,700 and the annual dog show brings in around £1,000. Donations alone accounted for just over £16,000 last year, according to outgoing treasurer Sharon Vaughan.

Pam Manning’s pet equipment hire service, Creature Comforts, also raised £800.

Mainland-based animal charities have been supportive too. The RSPCA has given £10,000 in grants and the Cats Protection League is funding the neutering of all cats, whether feral or domesticated.

Once the building costs have been paid off, the group will scale back activities and aim to raise around £5,000 a year to meet the surgery costs, replace equipment and pay the travel costs of vet Heike Dorn’s locum.

The committee feel that’s achievable.

Heike told the meeting she’d like future fundraising to purchase a digital X-ray machine and plaster-cast cutting equipment.

It was reported that Heike has paid out around £800 in medicines for wild animals she has treated, including removing the wing of an injured sparrow.

Bill says Heike never turns a sick animal away and, being surrounded by the sea, she gets a lot of marine animals and migrating birds to deal with too.

Bill thanked supporter Mike Skaife for using his experience in valuations for saving the surgery 62% of their business rates by challenging it and getting the amount due reduced from £8,600 to £3,250.

Bill also came in for praise in the AGM.

Most of the grants the group received were only paid after the work had been carried out. The meeting heard that he, and his wife Jill had loaned the group £30,000 on an interest-free basis.

Bill says he felt they couldn’t raise money from the public just to have to pay back interest on a loan, which is why he and Jill provided the money for the group.