GREAT Western Exotics has promoted specialist Dr Tom Dutton to lead the service after the retirement of its long-serving head Dr Neil Forbes.

Dr Forbes is stepping down at the end of May after a career spanning more than 30 years in the veterinary profession and 20 years leading GWE.

His successor, Dr Dutton, joined GWE in 2012 before gaining his RCVS CertAVP (ZooMed).

He went on to complete his Residency in Avian Medicine in 2015 and Diploma in 2017, both under the expert tutelage of Dr Forbes.

Based at the Vets Now emergency and specialty hospital in Swindon, GWE is renowned throughout the country for its work with avian and exotic animals.

An image of a Vets Now vet holding a small frog for Vets Now article on Sara Jones
Great Western Exotics treats a wide variety of small mammal, avian and amphibian pets

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Dr Dutton, who is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, said he is determined to ensure GWE remains a centre of excellence in the treatment of avian and exotic pets.

He added: “I am thrilled to be continuing Neil’s legacy here at GWE and I’m committed to providing a seamless transition for our referring practices.

“The hospital is in a unique position to provide a truly 24/7 first opinion and referral service staffed exclusively by exotic animal veterinarians and exotics qualified nurses.

“I particularly look forward to meeting new referring practices and to treating the varied and exciting case load we see here at GWE.”

Vets Now’s clinical director, Amanda Boag, congratulated Dr Dutton on his appointment and said it demonstrated the company’s continuing commitment to GWE.

She added: “‘We are indebted to Neil for his expert service and dedication to his patients, their owners and our referring vet community.

“We are very proud to have GWE as part of the Vets Now team and thank Neil for the strategic leadership he has provided through the early days of our acquisition of Great Western Referrals and beyond.

“I can assure referring practices and exotics pet owners that, under Tom, GWE will continue to have a talented and dedicated referral team, made up of world-class specialists.”

Former head of GWE Neil Forbes
Dr Neil Forbes is retiring after 20 years at Great Western Exotics

Dr Forbes, one of the world’s leading experts on avian and exotic veterinary medicine, started his career in 1983 and gained his European Diploma in 1997.

He played a pivotal role in integrating GWE into the Vets Now portfolio in 2011.

Dr Forbes also directed the only European College of Zoological Medicine-approved residency program in Avian Medicine in the UK and is one of only two ECZM-approved exotics residencies in the country.

Widely published, and a sought-after lecturer, he also held presidencies at the ECZM between 2006 and 2009 and the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS) from 2010 to 2011.

In retiral, he intends to pursue voluntary work, teaching and training local vets and rehabilitators working with an endangered species of vulture in South Africa.

Commenting on his retiral and hand over to Dr Dutton, Dr Forbes said: “It’s been a pleasure working with and training Tom over the past five years.

“I have no doubt he will continue to steer GWE to further success, offering practices and clients an exceptional service. I feel very happy to be leaving the service in such capable hands”.