A veterinary practice in the region has major cause for celebration after winning a prestigious design award for its premises as well as opening new branches and taking on extra staff.
Robson and Prescott, established in Morpeth town centre in 1938, moved to its award-winning Whorral Bank surgery on the edge of the town in 2012. However, the new development was not all plain sailing.
Practice manager Shelagh Prescott, wife of retired partner in the firm John, explained: “We were first approached by Mark Dransfield of Dransfield Properties, who developed Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth, in 2007. He wanted to build a supermarket on a site at Low Stanners and our main surgery was in the middle of his proposed redevelopment area.
“However, Morpeth was hit by devastating floods in 2008 and we were out of our offices for nine months, working from portable buildings in the car park.
“We assumed that ended any planned supermarket.
“But once we were back in our renovated surgery, which won the national award from the British Veterinary Hospitals Association for the best refurbishment in the UK for 2007-09, Dransfield came back.
“He offered to build us a new surgery to our own design, in our chosen location, to persuade us to move - Morrisons is now on the site where our former office was.
“We’d had our eye for a long time on a site at the top of Whorral Bank near to a new A1 roundabout. Planning was difficult as it was a 3.5-acre greenfield site but we suggested designing the building to look as if it were a refurbished farm steading to blend into the site, which was acceptable to the council planners.
“We used Alnwick stone and rustic brick for the main house and block and Yorkshire boarding for the buildings.”
In summer the practice was awarded Small Animal Hospital Status by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgery and in November the building won the British Veterinary Hospitals Association design award for the best new build, as well as the overall award for the best building design 2011-13 from veterinary practices nationwide, not just hospitals.
Also last year Robson and Prescott opened new branch surgeries in Morpeth centre, Westmoor and Kirkley Hall and recruited 13 new members of staff, taking the headcount to 60 and the branch network to seven.
The practice is currently refurbishing Percy Street Hall, Alnwick, which will open in February when six new members of staff will be recruited.
Mrs Prescott added: “Although dairy farming in the North East has declined recently, we retain a healthy large animal side.”