July 2015: The SPOT Story
by Brendan Robinson
A gift shop inside a specialist vet referral hospital ! You have to be crazy.
Brendan Robinson explains...
When I set up Village Vet in 1988, “Setting Standards, and An Exceptional Veterinary Experience” were the strap lines that inspired me. Village Vet has grown from a single vet and nurse practice started in Belsize Village, to a 22-site practice with 75 vets and 150 nurses and auxiliary staff over the past 28 years. Every year the facilities and the expertise have improved.
To achieve a level of excellence, and to be able to diagnose problems inside the body accurately, we needed to have a CT Scanner. This is a machine that takes high definition pictures of the body in three dimensions (3D) as opposed to an X-ray which produces a poor quality two-dimensional shadow.
This has culminated in the opening of London Vet Specialists (LVS) with a CT scanner in Belsize Village. Village Vet has set up a unique veterinary centre, complete with Vet Specialists in Surgery, Radiology and Emergency Medicine.
We advertised for a specialist surgeon, and to our delight we had a reply from the Head of Surgery at The Animal Medical Centre in Manhattan, New York. This is one of the preeminent veterinary centres in the world. The surgeon, Janet Kovak Mclaran wanted to experience living in London and in particular Hampstead. We, and the pets of Hampstead, are fortunate to have this world-leading surgeon join us as the Head of Surgery at London Vet Specialists and Village Vet. Janet’s particular area of excellence is minimally invasive surgery – laparoscopic surgery and cancer surgery.
Belsize Village is my community and I feel lucky and privileged to have spent so much of my time, almost 28 years, in this beautiful place. I want to make sure that whatever we do, will enhance this special village.
We set up LVS in the old Late Nite Extra newsagent when Shiraz and Tazim retired. We decided, that as we already occupied two shops in the village, we had to create a retail offering in the front of the shop that was useful for the village. Together with my wife Shelley Jacobson, we opened SPOT, offering ethical, ethnic and beautiful handmade designs. We have chosen to support income generation projects in developing countries.
So there are papier-mâché bowls from a South African cooperative supporting some of the poorest women with HIV and AIDS and crocheted baskets from Eritrean refugees living in Israel. We are supporting local artisans too; and have some beautiful ceramics and hand knitted cushions.
Obviously, getting the right name was important. The Village Vet Dalmatian has spots, our kids grew up reading 'Spot ' the dog, and as vets we have to spot the disease. The CT scanner is taking an image of a certain spot, and the place is located in the perfect spot. So the shop is called SPOT and the specialist vet centre is known as London Vet Specialists.
I realised that most people would think we were totally crazy, opening a specialist veterinary centre together with a gift shop for people with some special gifts for pets too. We have done it and your feedback has been so positive. Thank you for supporting us over the past 28 years and I hope we can continue to provide you and your pets with the best care available.