Tributes to a much-loved Beccles vet
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Tributes have been paid to a Beccles vet whose career spanned 41 years and whose story would not be out of place in a James Herriot book.
Peter Roe, from Beccles, died in hospital on January 14 after fighting multiple illnesses for a number of years.
The popular vet was well-known and much-loved in the town having cared for animals on farms across the region as well as running his own practice and, at the end of his career, treating the exotic animals at Kessingland Wildlife Park, now known as Africa Alive!
Since the sad news of his death spread through the town and beyond, his wife Barbara has received hundreds of cards and messages from people expressing their sadnesses and recalling memories of a “lovely man”.
Mr Roe was born on a farm in County Tipperary on May 5, 1925, the youngest of three boys.
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His love of animals began at a young age, helping on the farm with the cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens, but as tradition stated the farm would go to the oldest son, young Peter set his heart on becoming a vet.
He studied for six years at Trinity College in Dublin and, after qualifying, was on his way to a life in New Zealand, planning to spend two years at a veterinary practice in London Road, Beccles, before heading Down Under.
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Mr Roe’s daughter, Sally, said: “But it wasn’t long before he met the girl across the street and his plans for New Zealand went out the window - he never even got out of London Road.”
Mr and Mrs Roe married in Beccles Parish Church in March 1956 and they lived in London Road with children Sally and Chris. Mr Roe started a veterinary practice at the side of their house before building a veterinary hospital on the site of the Three Rivers practice, with Bill James who worked alongside him for 25 years.
Son Chris said: “Dad was a James Herriot type of vet and actually met James Herriot.
“There was often someone who couldn’t pay for their dog’s injection so he would accept a jar of homemade jam.
“One day I was driving with him and we hit a pheasant and he put it in his boot but when we got to the farm and opened the boot it flew away.”
Mr Roe’s main interest was large animals, but he moved on to smaller animals and exotic animals - one of his last jobs was operating on a zebra.
Mrs Roe, 82, said: “We had a wonderful life and a wonderful retirement but his health went downhill in the past eight years.
“There were always animals around and Peter had a lovely collie dog Rex that went everywhere with him.
“He had a wonderful life as a vet and he said he would do it all again. He didn’t just love the animals, he loved the people.
“He also saw things change and saw the introduction of antibiotics and anaesthetic.
“From the hundreds of cards I’ve had we can see he was much-loved - every card said what a lovely man he was and mentioned his mischievous smile and his Irish sense of humour.”
After Mr Roe’s retirement, the couple enjoyed travelling and as his health deteriorated he still refused to feel downcast.
Mrs Roe said: “He would never complain even when he could not get out as much.
“He would read the Eastern Daily Press from front to back, every word, every single day. That was his way of keeping in touch when he retired.”
As well as his two children, Mr Roe had two grandchildren, one great grandchild and two great grandchildren due this year. His funeral took place at St Michael’s Church yesterday.
Have you got any memories of Peter Roe? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01502 712060.