IT'S been a baptism of fire for experienced veterinary nurse Kathy Bailey who was promoted to her dream job just days before the country went into lockdown during the coronavirus crisis.

One of her first jobs as head veterinary nurse at Shearbridge Veterinary Centre, was to prepare the practice for new ways of working due to the pandemic.

Four of the six-strong nursing team was sent home to self-isolate so the practice could protect vulnerable colleagues.

Kathy and the remaining practice team members had to pull together to ensure they could still offer emergency or urgent treatment for pets, while engaging in new ways of working, including video and telephone consultations, observing social distancing and not allowing clients into the practice.

Yet Kathy, who has worked for the surgery for 35 years, stepped up to the key role at Shearbridge, which has practices in Queensbury and Hipperholme.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Kathy Bailey at Shearbridge VetsKathy Bailey at Shearbridge Vets

She said: “This is the most challenging time in all my years at the practice. Everyone who has been here has stepped up to the task of treating urgent cases and ensuring clients and colleagues are safe.

“We went into lockdown a week after I got the head nurse’s role. Like many people, I was scared and wondered how we would function. I wanted to ensure the team was safe and protected at home as some have underlying conditions that made them vulnerable, but we still want to provide care for our patients.

“New ways of working were quite complicated as we couldn’t allow clients into the building and we even offered euthanasia outside in the garden so owners could be there in the final moments.

“Luckily, I know the practice very well so that helped, and we have come through the storm and everybody is safe and well. Our clients have been supportive and understood that we were doing our best during a difficult time.”

Kathy, 53, joined Shearbridge Vets as a temporary nurse when she was 18 and, after impressing in the role, was offered a full-time job.

She qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse in 1989 but thought the head veterinary nurse role had eluded her because she had a few years working part-time while raising her family.

Along with receptionist Janet Jakubowski, she is the practice’s longest-serving employee after clocking up 35 years of service, and is currently studying for a certificate in feline nursing.

Kathy lives in Bradford with husband Stephen, their sons Thomas, 22, a newly qualified teacher, and Jack, 19, who starts Bradford University in September, and the family’s rescue springer spaniel, Smartie.

She added: “When I was younger, the opportunity came up to be head nurse but I had young children, so when it came up this year, I decided to go for it. I was pleased and surprised to be offered the role.

“We’re a great team here and we all help each other. The other girls know that if the floor needs cleaning, I don’t ask someone else to do it, I’m prepared to do it myself.

“My desire to look after animals has never wavered and I love supporting clients to help their pets. We’re like a family here and I’ve been very happy at the practice.”