By Jane Harris
Rebecca Roberts, called Bec, arrived in Barraba in 2016 with partner Johnny Reynders to check out a position as a Veterinarian with Nandewar Animal Health Services. They had set aside two days to check out the practice as well as the area, but Bec says they quickly felt it was right. “We stayed with Ben and Robyn. Jake was actually there as well. That first night we opened a bottle of Shiraz. And we bonded,” laughs Bec.
Six years on Bec and Johnny live at their Barraba property “Rose Valley” and are opening their own new veterinary practice in Barraba called ‘Barraba Veterinary Services’. The practice premises are at the well-known Mulwaree Rd clinic.
Bec’s mentor Ben sold his veterinary practice in order to retire and under the new ownership the Barraba clinic was closed. Bec says, “When the clinic closed and I no longer had a job, I was short of options. After much discussion, I decided I wanted to open the clinic again. I thought I would never want to do that. I was happy working for Ben for so long. But now I’m really excited about having my own business, and doing things my way which I think everyone understands. A big focus for me is people and their animals.”
Johnny’s role in the business is multi-faceted. He works for the Council on water services but also has a major role in Barraba Veterinary Services. At the moment he is refurbishing the premises. An expanded operating theatre is required for licensing amongst other things, which Johnny is building. He also works as a back-up vet nurse after hours. With a 16 year long partnership, he and Bec have a great working relationship as well.
Johnny is crucial in allowing this family business to take shape. He and Bec are parents to a one-year old boy, Jack. With no child care available in Barraba for children under three Johnny assists in caring for Jack, as well as using daycare in Manilla twice a week. Bec says the Barraba community has been warmly supportive of the new practice with people regularly asking how they can support her family and the venture. Bec says people advocating for some childcare in Barraba for under 3s would be a great support as she and Johnny embark on balancing their parent and professional lives.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask how they can help, which has been really, really nice. And it’s been really nice to talk to people about it, but the biggest way people can help is just by supporting the practice and coming in. I’m going to do as much as I can. But there’s going to be times when Jack comes first and I’m hoping that people will be understanding of that,” says Bec.
Every vet client knows the value of a capable vet nurse and office manager. Nicole Gillogly will be filling that role. Nic is well known in the district as a good operator and Bec says she is grateful Nic will be on the team.
The new vet clinic is offering all the services Barraba locals expect. Small animal medicine and surgery as well as on-farm veterinary services including preg testing of cattle and horses. Bec has future plans to offer semen collection and advanced orthopaedic surgery as well. The practice will operate a kennel and cattery as before and also be an agent for the Tamworth Pound.
Bec plans to work collaboratively with former colleague Carolyn Newberry. Carolyn operates an independent mobile veterinary business in the area. Bec says, “With the large animal work Carolyn and I will try and share. Carolyn’s out on her own now but we’re great friends. There might be days where someone calls and needs preg testing done and I’m too busy, but Carolyn can do it and vice versa. We will very much work together.”
After four postponements due to the pandemic, Bec and Johnny are finally tying the knot this coming weekend at Hartley Vale. The both smile as they observe getting the new practice ready to open has slightly stolen their focus from their wedding. There’s no doubt the Barraba community wishes them every success in both (ad)ventures.
Barraba Veterinary Service will be opening at the end of September.