Yorkshire vet Julian Norton - From horse with conjunctivitis to 'Best Dressed Pram'

I had an important engagement after I’d finished morning surgery the Saturday before last. I had been co-opted by Stray FM radio presenter Will Smith to be the judge at the fancy dress competition at Burton Leonard Feast.

Yorkshire vet Julian Norton was a special guest at Burton Leonard Feast. Picture by Andy Barber.

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Yorkshire vet Julian Norton was a special guest at Burton Leonard Feast. Picture by Andy Barber.

Will has been very helpful promoting stuff to do with The Yorkshire Vet, so I felt I owed him a favour, but I also love these traditional village events – this one dates back to the 1850s. As I was on duty, beeper permitting, I would be in the area during the afternoon. If I were to get a call, it wasn’t far to the surgery to stitch up an injured dog, or administer cortisone to a cat stung by a bee.

So, the horse with conjunctivitis had been treated, phone calls had been made to discuss lab results and the last consultation of the morning (a rat with an infection) had been completed. Next Stop: Burton Leonard. The first time I ever encountered this village was when I ran in their 10k race, about as many years ago.

Now, I go through the village every week – I was there on Monday, pregnancy testing cows and heifers. Saturday’s job, however, would be very different – no plastic, arm- length gloves, no wellies and no cows – but still all eyes would be on me as I pronounced my decision. It wasn’t “pregnant” or “not pregnant” but “...and the winner is…”

We all processed down the road, stopping the traffic, to tunes from Knaresborough Brass Band, before arriving at the Fancy Dress Show Ring. The first few classes were exciting enough. The Barbara Iveson Trophy, a veritable jug if ever there was one, went to the winner of The Best Dressed Pram category.

Julian Norton writes a column for The Yorkshire Post every weekend. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

There were not so many entries into the Decorated Bike category (I suspected most cyclists were taking advantage of a warm, sunny Saturday and actually riding their bikes), but it got better with Mr Potatohead taking third prize in the next category, which was for Girls and Boys 2 years and under.

There was a surprise for me in the Girls and Boys 5 and 6 years category, as one contestant came dressed as me, complete with checked shirt, stethoscope and my first book (Horses, Heifers and Hairy Pigs: The Life of a Yorkshire Vet, still available in all good bookshops). Not surprisingly, he won.

After all the age group classes, up to and including Ladies and Gents, the Open Couples category came along. Now, as an outsider to the village, I had no idea what this class might entail, and my mind boggled slightly, particularly when an assistant sitting nearby whispered in my ear, “This one is for the mad people.”

The first two contestants were dressed as exact replicas of Mr and Mrs Green, of Yorkshire Vet fame. Their outfits, complete with floral dress and trainers, were perfect and their rendition was completed with a running commentary as they did a lap of the ring.

As if this wasn’t sufficient excitement for the day, the final class was a new category, specially introduced this year: The Best Dressed Pet. In a popular and closely fought class, Batman (a dachshund) and Robin (a Basset Hound) were narrowly beaten by a pair of lions. I relaxed with an ice-cream for a few moments and then my phone rang. It was back into veterinary action – a Labrador pup had eaten some poisonous berries. At last I was back into familiar territory. But not for long!

In just a few days I would be at another show – one that was just a bit bigger – in Harrogate. I would be out of my comfort zone again, up an eighty-foot pole and back on telly. But more of that next week…