Obituary: Richard Philip, veterinary expert, 72

Richard Philip
Richard Philip
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Richard Philip, veterinary expert, has died, aged 72.

Born on January 30, 1942, in Weymouth, Richard Philip was the son of a schoolmaster and a music teacher. He grew up in Cornwall and Devon and first came to Scotland in 1961 to study veterinary medicine at Glasgow University. He joined the University Air Squadron and the Cecilian musical theatre society, through which he met his wife, Marie, whom he married in 1965.

After graduating in 1967 he joined a practice in Berkshire, close to the home of writer Agatha Christie, whom he used to visit to treat her dog. Then, with a couple of years of experience under his belt, he headed to New Zealand, taking his wife and their newborn son on the six-week sea voyage, to join a farm animal practice in Te Awamutu, in Waikato.

In 1972 he moved to Fiji, as a divisional veterinary officer, where he helped set up the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the capital, Suva.

He was working for the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) and the British Government sponsored his return to Scotland in 1974 to study for a Masters degree in Tropical Veterinary Science at Edinburgh University. He continued to work for the ODA, now the Department for International Development, until 1990.

When he was posted to Jordan in 1975, his wife suggested they travel there overland, so the couple and their three children, aged seven, three and one, spent six weeks driving there by Land Rover, camping and living on baked beans and tins of Baxters mince. He worked as a veterinary investigation officer in Jordan until 1981, setting up laboratories and training staff in small animal surgery.

He then spent some time at the Animal Disease Research Institute at Pirbright in the UK, including going to work on projects in Syria and Indonesia before he was posted to North Yemen in 1985 as a senior veterinary investigation officer, once again driving there from 

In the early 1990s he worked on overseas monitoring operations with Ross Breeders of Midlothian, developing poultry disease monitoring systems worldwide, before becoming veterinary adviser on an EU project to improve veterinary services in Bhutan.

He worked there until 1999, the year he was awarded an OBE for services to Veterinary Science Overseas. Two years later he was involved in the programme to combat foot and mouth disease in Cumbria. Though he had lived in many countries over his 30 years abroad, he always regarded Edinburgh as his home, working latterly as a guide at the National Museum of Scotland and the National Trust’s magnificent Newhailes property in Musselburgh.

He is survived by wife Marie, children Alasdair, Iain and Anna, five grandchildren and his brothers, David and Michael.