Local Face: Julie Beacham

  |  Published: Oct 1st 2017

The animal lovers of the area will be familiar with Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre in Tring Road, Halton, where Julie is Practice Manager. It was founded by John Parker FRCVS in 1964 in one of the houses in Aylesbury Road, Wendover. Until the practice moved to its current and much larger premises in 1990, it was known as Parker and Godsal. Over the years, it has grown into a big and busy practice with 65 staff.

Julie joined Wendover Heights in 1995 following a career in the medical world. After leaving school she had trained as a State Registered Nurse in Birmingham but thanks to David Attenborough, whose first major TV series ‘Life on Earth’ was being broadcast at the time, she moved to London to study for a degree in Zoology and Ecology. Work in these fields was scarce so she returned to the NHS as a Clinical Scientist, using her medical knowledge and scientific training to run a blood flow research unit at St. Bartholomews Hospital for five years.

Following a maternity break and a move to Buckinghamshire, she spotted a part-time reception job at the Great Missenden branch surgery of Wendover Heights and thought it would be that she would return to a ‘proper job’ a year later, but she was instantly hooked and fell in love with veterinary life in general and Wendover Heights in particular.

Animals had always been Julie’s passion in life and she found her true vocation as part of a fantastic team. At that time the practice was run by the busy vets who owned it and were already overstretched with clinical work. By taking on new roles and responsibilities she helped with the smooth running of the practice and enabled the vets to do what they do best, treating animals.

With study and training, Julie developed her skills in practice management, becoming the first overall Practice Manager in 2009. The role is very busy and varied, looking after HR, health and safety, marketing, compliance with legislation, IT, financial and strategic planning, and dealing with problems and complaints. On a practical level though, the job involves everything from basic plumbing to animal wrangling with a spot of lateral thinking and diplomacy along the way!

In 2010 Julie was awarded the Certificate in Veterinary Practice Management and became one of only 65 holders of the UK qualification at that time. She was elected as a Council Member of the Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) in 2011 and joined their Certification and Training Committee. The VPMA has around 850 members and welcomes everyone involved in leading and managing veterinary businesses. Julie will become President in January 2018.

From an early age, Julie cared for many animals - dogs, cats, horses and farm animals with one of her earliest childhood memories being nose to nose with a friendly St. Bernard dog at a local fair. She grew up in rural Warwickshire and had ambitions to study veterinary science at University but was assured by a Careers teacher that girls were not admitted, which is quite ironic now that the profession is predominantly female. In the mid-1970s, girls were pushed mainly into two career paths, nursing or teaching.

Thank goodness times have changed!

Giant breed dogs, especially Bullmastiffs, have been her lifelong passion although she always had at least one cat to keep them in order! Recently she has downsized to a Staffie-cross rescue dog named Floyd and also has two Maine Coon-cross cats named Jaffa and Cookie. Her main interests outside work still involve the natural world, and she never tires of the Chilterns countryside. 

When taking a break from all things veterinary, she enjoys music, walking, gardening, travel, architecture, antiques and eating out. Julie and husband Simon live in Great Missenden and have one son, Jonathan, who is a final year PhD student at Lancaster University.

Julie Beacham
Julie with some of the staff at Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre, courtesy WHVC
Julie with some of the staff at Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre, courtesy WHVC
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