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Michael and Clare Hamilton’s new High Wycombe specialist pet hospital

PUBLISHED: 12:08 15 January 2018

The stunning backdrop of Shanghai: Michael had been flown out to perform an operation on a dog and decided Clare needed to experience this special city

The stunning backdrop of Shanghai: Michael had been flown out to perform an operation on a dog and decided Clare needed to experience this special city


It’s a busy time for the Hamiltons as they prepare to open a specialist pet hospital

It shouldn’t happen to a vet – but it does. And definitely not Marlow-based TV veterinarian and specialist Michael Hamilton and his fellow vet and wife, Clare, but there it is… they both have allergies to the fluffier end of their ‘market’. However, when you love and care for animals, such irritations just have to be managed.

Nor does it stop you from having four-legged companions in the family home, in their case a pug called Bumble (their short coats ‘work’ for many allergy people) and a Devon Rex cat, Winston, definitely not known for being a bundle of fluff.

Michael has over 20 years of veterinary expertise specialising in small animal surgery. He lectures to veterinary surgeons all over the world on orthopaedic and surgical best practice. He worked as a Senior Surgeon at Fitzpatrick Referrals, alongside Noel Fitzpatrick, for over five years. Michael featured on BBC One’s the Bionic Vet, a forerunner to the Supervet on Channel 4. He has also appeared on the Discovery Channel’s Wildlife SOS and is a regular on Channel 4’s Vet On the Hill.

Very much a ‘local girl’, Clare is practice owner at Cherry tree Vets in Lane End. She was born in High Wycombe, went to school in Frieth and Great Kingshill, then Godstowe and Wycombe High School. The couple met while she was studying at Cambridge: “Michael had gone back there to do some specialist training, so in a way he was my teacher!” laughs Clare. “But it’s not taboo at that level, it’s quite a common way for people with the same interests to meet. As it happens, we had a mutual friend who had always insisted that if we just met we would make a good set – that we were the ultimate two peas in a pod.”

It turns out the friend was right and correctly predicted a wedding. Michael and Clare married in the beautiful setting of Great Fosters at Egham in 2009. Clare says she and work prospects lured her “posh Geordie” husband south (he’s from Alnwick, a small and historic market town close to the border with Scotland). The couple share a love of running, travel and adventure as well as professions and this took them across the world as they built a life. But the pull of the Chilterns was strong.

They lived in Radnage for a while and then Marlow became the settling spot. Clare opened Cherry Tree Vets in Lane End because she remembered as a youngster living in the Bucks countryside that necessary trips to the vet always involved something of a journey. It seemed the perfect spot.

They lived in Radnage for a while and then Marlow became the settling spot. Clare opened Cherry Tree Vets in Lane End because she remembered as a youngster living in the Bucks countryside that necessary trips to the vet always involved something of a journey. It seemed the perfect spot.

Daughter Maya arrived in the summer of 2015, and this July son George made his appearance, so Clare’s recently returned to the Lane End practice following maternity leave. It’s been a busy time for the Hamiltons as Michael, a veterinary surgeon and consultant in small animal orthopaedic and spinal surgery, will open a state-of-the-art, multi-million pound pet hospital for specialist surgical and neurological treatments in February 2018.

Hamilton Specialist Referrals is borne of the belief that there is room for a new wave of veterinary excellence across the UK. Michael says first-class surgical procedures based on cutting-edge technology and innovation should be more available to every pet owner. Importantly, he is also committed to a pledge that veterinary practices of all sizes should be fun, people-centric places for nurses and surgeons to work, amidst what is often a high-octane ‘life or death’ environment for their patients.

While the care of the four-legged patients is paramount, Michael is also concerned about the emotional pressures veterinary staff face every day. He says: “Veterinary practice can be extremely busy and, at times, very stressful. As a profession, vets have one of the highest suicide rates in the UK and this is real concern. We will focus on delivering world-class, exemplary clinical services with a clear and proactive focus on the people that make this possible. We will embrace a wide range of workplace measures to ensure staff at the hospital feel relaxed, content, happy and valued.

“These areas are often overlooked and I firmly believe that by nurturing the best workforce, in an inclusive manner, we will be able to offer the best services to our clients and the pets they entrust to our care. We are changing the face of surgical referral veterinary practice and will be making the very best treatments accessible to many more pet owners.”

The hospital in Halifax Road on the Cressex Business Park will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The technological investment will provide for highly advanced equipment such as an MRI and CT scanner suite specifically designed for veterinary use, in addition to ultra high-tech radiography and arthroscopy (key-hole surgery) facilities. Hamilton Specialist Referrals will work purely on a referral basis, primarily taking cases from veterinary practices within a 50-mile radius of High Wycombe.

In the meantime there’s Christmas to ‘survive’ with two young children, although this will be a poignant one for the Hamiltons. Michael lost his mother to pancreatic cancer in the summer; she was only diagnosed in May and died at the end of July. He’s hoping to get a place in the London Marathon and to raise funds for the Sue Ryder Hospice. The family will travel north for some of the festive season, back to Alnwick to visit Dan, his best friend and who also knew his mother well.

The New Year will bring a new focus as they count down the days to the opening of Hamilton Specialist Referrals, the first hospital of its kind in the local area. A lot of us pet owners are going to be very grateful in the future that ‘our Clare’ found the right man and that he also fell in love with our beautiful countryside and towns.

Clare Hamilton’s Marlow Magic

• Family: I don’t think you can beat Higginson Park for a walk beside the Thames at any time of year. The flowers, trees, wildlife, it’s got it all.

• Grown Ups: For a special treat it has to be Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers. But my favourite spot is probably The Coach, simply because when you do get the chance to sneak out as a couple for a little while, rather than as parents, it’s one of those places where even a glass of wine while chatting makes you feel like you’ve had an outing.


Martha Collison on life since the Great British Bake Off - Our favourite contestant from The Great British Bake Off is now ‘all grown up’ but will be back in Ascot for a traditional family Christmas


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