Review/Oorsig Volume 22, Issue 05 - Page 17

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2018 A Tribute to Veterinary Pioneers 2020 Will be the twin centenary of The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) and the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort. Leading up to these events The Review will be publishing an article in each issue relating to the history of veterinary science, specifically livestock. Not just diseases, but especially the people - vets - who helped create what we now think of as standard practice. DR ROMYN EVERY Romyn was born in Durban in 1927. His father Harold Joseph Every was an Agricultural College Principal and so Romyn’s early years were spent at Grootfontein and Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape. He then attended Merchiston Preparatory School in Pietermaritzburg and matriculated from Maritzburg College at the age of 16. Those were war years and being too young, his attempt to enroll for Military service was turned down. He completed his first year BSc at Natal University and again tried to enroll, this time successfully. He trained in the Artillery and was en route to North Africa when peace came. Then he was accepted at Onderstepoort where he met Helene, Prof Schalk van Rensburg’s daughter, whom he later married. Romyn excelled in his studies and on qualifying in 1949 was awarded both the Sir Arnold Theiler prize and Clinical medal. He missed his degree Cum Laude by just a few marks in one subject. He began practice with Lex Thomas in Pretoria and then joined Ashton Tarr in Pietermaritzburg, running a branch practice in Richmond. Thereafter he and Sandy Littlejohn were sent to Estcourt and Mooi River respectively. The arrangement was not practical, and both branched out alone. And so he put up his Plate and started practice out of one room in his rented house in Estcourt. It must be remembered that at this time farmers were still used to having their livestock needs serviced by State Vets and Stock Inspectors. East Coast Fever had not long been controlled and blood slides from all dead animals still had to be examined by the State. Farmers and pet owners were then reluctant to pay for private services, but Romyn, partnered by his very able wife Helene, soldiered on. He was an exceptional vet: hard working, extremely able, totally ethical and having the strong character and warm nature to be equally liked and respected. Estcourt was his base but he covered a huge area of the Natal Midlands: from Ladysmith in the north, Nottingham Road in the south, Weenen and the thornveld in the east and the Central Berg to the west. These were the times of “fire engine” work, the odd pregnancy test of dairy cows before sale, colicky horses and all the companion animal surgeries and consultations as well. None of the modern drugs that make work so much easier and treatments more specific and successful today, were available then. His prowess as a pregnancy diagnostician was legendary. His accuracy then for ‘days-in-calf’ was uncanny. Remember the middle uterine artery! The work, long hours and excessive travel time took their toll. Locums were difficult to find for time off and holidays. He underwent two major back surgeries. A few prominent farming clients saw his worth and respected his sound advice and really supported him through some hard times. In 1968 he employed Tink Robey as his first assistant, followed by Roger Turner for 1969 and the late Angus Pringle for 1970. 17