Farewell to pioneering vet Peter Rossdale, aged 94

  • PIONEERING vet Peter Rossdale OBE, founder of one of the world’s leading equine veterinary practices, died on 26 November aged 94, following a short illness.

    Dr Rossdale, the catalyst for Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons, is remembered for introducing a modern scientific approach to equine practice and as one of the first to embrace evidence-based veterinary medicine.

    His love of horses started in childhood and his early ambition was to become a jockey. In 1939, he was evacuated from London and boarded at Stowe School, which is where his desire to work with horses as a vet grew. He read natural sciences at Trinity College Cambridge and achieved his veterinary qualification from the Royal Veterinary College.

    In 1954, he married Jill Clifton and the couple had two sons, Simon and Anthony, and a daughter, Sally, along with six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

    After four years with the Reynolds, Leader, Day and Crowhurst practice, Dr Rossdale and his wife started a new practice in Newmarket, which would later become the world-renowned Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons.

    He obtained fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1967, was awarded a PhD from Cambridge and held honorary doctorates from Berne, Edinburgh and Sydney universities. In all, he wrote more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, authored books and served as editor of the Equine Veterinary Journal for more than three decades 1980 to 2010, and editor-in-chief of Equine Veterinary Education for 20 years.

    He was a key figure in the formation of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) in 1961, serving as president in 1976.

    He was devoted to research and is known as the “father of modern equine perinatology”, for his leading work in managing the health of mares and foals.

    During his distinguished career, Dr Rossdale served on scientific advisory boards on the Wellcome Trust, Horserace Betting Levy Board and the Animal Health Trust.

    In 1998, he was appointed OBE for services to equine veterinary science. Dr Rossdale retired his partnership in 2002 after more than 50 years, continuing with his research and remaining involved as a consultant.

    His involvement in the horse world included breeding 1993 Middle Park Stakes winner First Trump and the 1992 July Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye hero Mr Brooks, in a joint venture with Jill at Romney House Stud.

    Following Jill’s death in 1999, Dr Rossdale found happiness again with his second wife Mary Sharkey, gaining three stepdaughters and a step-granddaughter.

    His many accolades included the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Duke of Devonshire award in 2004 and the 2018 BEVA equine welfare award.

    In a tribute from Rossdales, he is remembered for his “legendary” energy, enthusiasm and intellect and as “one of the most important veterinary surgeons of our time”.

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