In October 2002, my dog Jazz and I transferred to The Veterinary
Centre as clients on the recommendation of a friend and neighbour.
In January 2005 he was diagnosed with Canine Lymphoma (cancer
of the lymph system). The next year was a roller coaster ride
as he responded to treatment, developed complications both
related to and separate from the lymphoma and its treatment,
and made seemingly miraculous recoveries from apparent near
certain death (never the same thing twice). At times, we were
visiting the vets so often that the waiting room in Henley
felt like a second home, and I realised what a good choice
I had made back in 2002: all the staff made us feel very welcome,
as well as giving Jazz the best care and treatment possible.
They all really care about what they do. Sadly, Jazz finally
lost his battle and was put to sleep in December 2005, but
not before I had persuaded Fiona to give me a job!
My background is in computing: I have a BSc in Computing
Studies from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and
my first job after graduating was as a Software Support Engineer
for Hewlett-Packard. After 8 years there, I took a change
of direction and spent the next 13 years working for backinaction,
experts in specialist back care furniture and healthy seated
posture. Back then, I was their first employee (I was a customer
of theirs before working there too) and my job was mostly
administrative, although I did also design and code the first
computerised Excel-based order processing system there; gradually,
as the business grew, I needed to be involved more and more
in sales, which is not really my cup of tea, so once more
it was time to move on.
I joined The Veterinary Centre as Office Manager in January
2006. My job is to lighten the administrative load and look
after the computer systems so that the vets and nurses can
get on with the job they love, working with the animals.
Since joining I have acquired two more dogs. Roxie was brought
into the surgery by a member of the public because she had
an injured leg. She was never claimed, so came to live with
us, and as part of her rehabilitation after major surgery
by Sharon to pin her leg, we took her swimming at my sister's
Canine Hydrotherapy pool in Southampton (that's the two of
us in the photo).
We got Micky from the Diana Brimblecombe Rescue Centre in
Wokingham, partly hoping that he, like Jazz, would prove to
be a Flyball dog (especially as "Princess" Roxie
just can't understand why anyone should think she should demean
herself by picking up a ball). BFA Flyball is somewhat different
to the Flyball you see at Crufts, and suitable for many more
breeds. I used to enjoy commentating on BFA Flyball competitions
at public shows while Jazz was still with us, so hoped that
Micky would be reasonably good at it, even if he didn't turn
out to be as super-fast as some of the collies.
The good news is that Micky took to Flyball like a duck to
water, and did some really good times in individual training.
The bad news is that he absolutely hates other dogs invading
"his" space - and Flyball is a team relay sport
which very much involves another dog heading straight for
you at high speed (more details at www.flyball.org.uk). So
we had to gracefully retire him before he ever had a chance
to compete. Roxie is scared of her own shadow, but likes to
think that barking her head off at other dogs is the best
form of defence, so we sometimes wonder what we've done to
deserve two such resolutely anti-social dogs (despite our
best efforts). If you meet us out on a walk, please don't
be offended if we avoid you!
I work part time, and spend one day per week in Southampton
supporting my parents: my dad cares for my mum, who had a
severe sub-arachnoid (brain) haemorrhage in May 2009, leaving
her partially paralysed.
In my spare time, I enjoy horse-riding, Formula 1 Motor Racing
and technological gadgetry, amongst other things. I have a
blog at blog.juwlz.co.uk, where I write periodically about
whatever techy topics take my fancy (mostly smartphone-related).
I have also appeared a number of times on Steve Litchfield's
video and audio podcasts, The Phones Show and the Phones Show
Chat respectively; I administer the PSC user forum and contribute
to a number of other technological forums on the internet.
You'll also find me on Twitter and Google+.