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Snow joke for Inverurie vet who took to skis to attend urgent call

By Kyle Ritchie

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A vet based in Inverurie skied through six-feet snow drifts to ensure he could attend an urgent call to a sick cow after the worst snow for nearly 20 years left roads impassable.

Andrew Smith pulled on his salopettes and goggles and skied the one mile from his home to the farm at Fisherford after going off-piste took on a whole different meaning.

The snow was so deep, Andrew, a clinical director at Donview Vets in Inverurie, found himself skiing over the top of fence posts on his way to the call-out.

Vet Andrew Smith on his skis.
Vet Andrew Smith on his skis.

The main roads were blocked by stranded lorries and cars, and people found themselves completely cut off for the entire weekend.

Small holding owners Jan and Ray Alder, who have a herd of Highland cattle, were stunned when Andrew arrived with his medical supplies in his haversack.

Andrew, a vet for 14 years, is a keen cross-country skier and, but for Covid restrictions, would have actually been on a skiing holiday with wife Rachelle Grogan in Sweden, where conditions were not nearly as bad as Aberdeenshire.

He said: “We had a lot of snow and then the wind picked up and blew it into the road, creating huge drifts.

"The roads were blocked by lorries and earlier in the day my car had got stuck and a tractor had to get me out. It was the worst conditions I’ve ever had to face to do my job.

“I’ve never not managed to answer a call and I wasn’t going to let that happen, but it was impossible to walk. Skiing was probably the easiest way to get there.

Andrew Smith.
Andrew Smith.

"I got my skis and made sure I was dressed for the conditions and I think the wind blew me there. You could just see the tops of fences as I skied over them.

"The biggest battle was getting home as I was going against the wind.

“Jan and Ray were staggered when I got there as their tractor couldn’t even get out, but they were very grateful.”

Unfortunately Andrew’s heroics were not rewarded with a happy outcome as the Highland cow was so ill but his efforts certainly impressed Jan and Ray.

Jan said: “Andrew went above and beyond to get to us in the height of the blizzard, but that’s the sort of vet he is as he cares passionately and is so knowledgeable. He didn’t have to make the journey and many wouldn’t have done.

“We’ve been up here for 18 years and I’ve never seen weather like it. When he left, he skied home head-on into the fiercest blizzard.

Huge snow drifts made driving impossible.
Huge snow drifts made driving impossible.

“Andrew couldn’t have done anything more. Coming through the blizzard to try to help her gave her a chance and you can’t ask for more than that.”

There has been a ray of sunshine for the Alders this week, however, as they welcomed a heifer calf on Thursday morning at their farm.

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