Top farmer retires from doctor duties

Sandy Sutherland will still have plenty to do. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Sandy Sutherland will still have plenty to do. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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A DOCTOR and prize-winning sheep farmer has retired from life as a GP after 35 years.

Staff and patients marking the retirement of Dr Sandy Sutherland brought the two worlds together with a very special patient paying a visit to the practice – a young lamb, brought in under the guise of a “baby check” as a surprise.

Dr Sutherland, 60, was a partner at Pathhead Medical Centre for 32 years while also managing a 40-acre sheep farm in the Borders.

Born in Edinburgh and brought up in Lauderdale, he returned to the Capital to attend Edinburgh Academy before being accepted into Edinburgh University in 1972. He was a keen rugby player and played in the prop position for the rugby club, before graduating in 1978.

His mother was a doctor and his father a farmer, and it is these two professions which would go on to dominate his life.

Through farming he met his wife of 34 years, Grace – both came from farming families and the two first got to know each other at the Association of Young farmers. The couple have two children, James, a management consultant, and Laura, who is now an accountant living in Australia.

After completing his pre-registration training year at Roodlands Hospital in Haddington and working in psychiatry, paediatrics and A&E for six months, Dr Sutherland became a trainee at Pathhead Medical Centre in 1982, and within 12 months was partner of the small surgery.

During his time there, Dr Sutherland saw the surgery through no less than three changes of location, from its humble beginnings in a house on the main street to its new, modern offices, built at the top of Pathhead 12 years ago.

Dr Sutherland is very active in the political side of medicine and was a member of the Local Medical Committee for 20 years and its chair for four years. He was also part of the Scottish GPs committee for 15 years.

And alongside his success in the medical profession, Dr Sutherland has carved out a career for himself as a prize-winning farmer of more than 200 pedigree Suffolk rams, a flock he has built up over 28 years.

He celebrated his retirement at the end of March with a party in his barn which was attended by many of the doctors he had trained up at his practice over the years, along with family, friends and colleagues.But despite officially retiring, Dr Sutherland shows no signs of slowing down. He is set to be a volunteer doctor at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“I have really enjoyed working in Pathhead – the staff and patients have all been very nice, and it’s just a lovely place to work,” he said.

Dr Sigi Joseph, a partner at Pathhead Medical Practice and a former trainee of Dr Sutherland, said: “Sandy encompassed everything a good GP wants to be – full of empathy, pragmatic, dedicated and well-loved by staff and patients.”