Why A1 Locums supports B.A.R.K.S.

Once again, we are very happy to support Banbury Animal Rescue and Kindness Service (B.A.R.K.S.), a lovely local charity who do so much for cats and small furries, in finding them new homes.

Clare Alderton, Managing Director of A1 Locums said “Sadly, we lost one of our own guinea pigs, Barry this year, and felt we had to find Bob some company, so after another trip to see B.A.R.K.S. Banbury, we came home with Panda and Bear!

“Our team of three guineas live in the centre of our office, in their pen, as happy as Larry. Bob loves his girls and is always ready for his snack pot each morning. He is always very busy, following and protecting them. They love a box, any box, which we cut holes in, make tunnels, turn them upside down, anywhere they can hide. In summer, they are out on the office lawn in their summer housing, eating the fresh grass and taking in the countryside.”

About the charity

B.A.R.K.S. is a small independent charity which is self-funding and relies upon its volunteers. They have several projects on the go at present for their feline friends; one is to re-floor the cat enclosure which is cracked and damaged. They are also looking for support with veterinary bills, which even for the small furries can be very expensive.  Average veterinary bills are £3,000 to £4,000 per month. It is vital in today’s world that we can help keep these small specialist charities going as they don’t very often get the national funding that others get.

As our project for 2019, A1 Locums have donated £500 to extend a pen for a permanent resident cat called Fluff. Due to health reasons, she cannot really live inside a house, and needs more space in her current enclosure. The work is urgent as we can see that Fluff needs things to climb on and some variety in her little life. Hopefully this donation will enable B.A.R.K.S to start the project in early 2020. We look forward to catching up and seeing the progress.


A1 Locums supports Parkinson’s UK

A1 Locums supports Parkinson's UK

A1 Locums has announced its support for the charity, Parkinson’s UK.

Instead of sending out Christmas cards this year, we will be donating the money we would have  spent, to two different charities; one of which is Parkinson’s UK.

The reality of Parkinson’s has affected the lives of several people close to us at A1 Locums, and the need to support the charity has touched our hearts.

Over 10 million people worldwide are affected by this condition.  In the UK alone,  145,000 people have been diagnosed with it – that’s about 1 in 350 people.  It occurs mainly in the over 50s, but younger people can be prone it too. Men are more likely to get the disease than women are.

As quoted by the Parkinson’s Charity, people with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of the chemical dopamine, because some of the nerve cells that make it have died.

We don’t yet know exactly why people get Parkinson’s, but researchers think it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause the dopamine-producing nerve cells to die. Without dopamine, people can find that their movements are slower, and everyday tasks can take longer. Some of the typical symptoms that we often recognise with Parkinson’s are tremors and stiffness in the joints.  Like many diseases now, these are not the only symptoms and there are many underlying symptoms which affect day to day life, sometimes making it difficult for people to recognise that someone has Parkinson’s. It can also take time for the disease to develop.

Parkinson’s UK is a charity that undertakes research into the condition; and a lot more research is still needed. For this reason we have nominated it as our A1 Locums charity,  in the hope that our donation can help towards their various research programmes.

We’ll shortly announce the second charity to benefit this Christmas.


Celebrating 15 years in Business

Where it all started

June 2004 saw the launch of A1 Locums as a new start-up in the veterinary recruitment industry. Our company started with a select team of just two people, working from the spare bedroom of MD Clare Alderton’s house in Buckinghamshire. Clare, who had previously worked in construction recruitment, moved into veterinary recruitment and after just a short time decided there was an opportunity for her to start her own business.

Clare Alderton
Clare Alderton with Wilbur

In 2004 there were just six agencies specialising in this field; we hear that today there are over 60 and that number is still growing. We have built an excellent reputation in a field that has grown ever larger, and we are proud to have held a premier spot in the industry for over 15 years.

Where we are today

We no longer operate from a spare bedroom. We have moved to an idyllic location on a farm in Northamptonshire; surrounded by open countryside and with the freedom to have pets in the office. They help to create a positive work environment and influence staff wellbeing. We experience great pleasure in having our animals as part of our daily lives, watching their antics and taking turns caring for them.

Developing skills

This year we have taken the opportunity to train our staff through the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC). Sophie Vickers has successfully completed her Level 2 ‘Balancing Act’ course, which enables her to get the best from her team and guide them through successful candidate resourcing. Ryan and Marcus have undertaken courses to identify candidate opportunities and develop their skills in this specialism. Lucy and Glenda in our Resources team, have been on courses too. They learned to help identify candidates’ needs more accurately and to be able to support our recruiters 100%. We have also found the REC to be of great support for information and guidance about Brexit and GDPR.

Guinea pig

Looking ahead

With Brexit looming one would have assumed that we have faced a difficult year but quite the contrary has been true. Business has continued to grow, and we are constantly inundated with work. We’re proud that the business is going from strength to strength.

Since the beginning of this year we have seen a large increase in corporates buying up independent practices. Simultaneously, we are currently noticing a new trend where candidates are concerned about their wellbeing, looking for a better work-life balance and less willing to do long hours. There is a corresponding shortage of candidates prepared to commit to full time positions and the out-of-hours work that the corporates require to meet customer demand; yet practices are still recruiting permanent staff.

We are also concerned as we sit and wait, to see what changes Brexit will bring and how they will affect the veterinary recruitment industry. What new turns will it take and how will that change where our work force comes from? It’s certainly challenging! We at A1 locums are, however, ready to take on those challenges and we will continue to show positivity in helping veterinary professionals to find their ideal working environment, whether that is in a permanent role or as a locum.


Remembering Mike

Mike Esslemont-Palmer
Mike Esslemont-Palmer

Anne McManus has been with A1 locums for twelve years. In that time, she has had the privilege of working with vet nurses across the country. It was with great sadness that she recently learned that Mike Esslemont-Palmer, one of her regular locums, had lost his battle with cancer.

We asked her to share some memories of him.

“Mike registered with A1 Locums in June 2016 just before he graduated,. Very keen to get work booked in as soon as he received his RCVS number, his first placement was for Village Vet at their very busy Hampstead Veterinary Hospital,working nights for seven months and returning at regular intervals over the last 3 years. He also worked regular nights for me for Vets Now, Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurology and at their Oncology and Soft Tissue Hospital along with other Referral and hospital placements in the south of England.

“Along the way Mike made numerous friends and since his passing I have had five calls from very emotional nurses who also work for me,  that have had the pleasure to work in placements with Mike. All of them have said what a dedicated, lovely,  funny person he was!

“On a more personal note about Mike… he worked solely for me since he joined A1 Locums and I first met him face to face at Vets Now Congress in 2017. He was accompanied by one of the permanent night nurses, Dave from Village Vet , and the most infectious thing about Mike was his cheeky smile; he and Dave had me in stitches; they were like a double act!  We chatted on a weekly basis and he became one of the nurses  who I considered a friend as well as locum. I knew that he hadn’t been well for quite some time but his sheer determination to not let this get in his way is to be commended. I will always remember him with fondness for being a sweet, caring, dedicated, funny guy who loved his job caring for animals. He had a huge passion to travel the world and work with wild animals; his favourite being his love for elephants”.

As a tribute to Mike’s memory, A1 Locums has adopted Larro, an orphaned baby elephant that was rescued this year,

“I will miss our weekly chats and his caring funny demeanour so much!” R.I P Mike.


Putting Names to Faces at Vet Fest 2019

Clare Alderton (left) with visiting locum Charmaine (right)
Clare Alderton (left) with visiting locum Charmaine (right)

A1 Locums has just recently returned from Vet Festival at Loseley Park, near Guildford and it was great to be able to spend some time with our locum, vets, vet nurses and our clients.

Sophie, Marcus and Ryan were the advance team on Thursday evening to set up our stand in beautiful sunshine, put the finishing touches to it and head back to our hotel, to refresh, kick back and enjoy drinks and dinner together before a busy festival.
Hoping for sunshine was not on our radar.On Friday morning it was like the Somme – wet and windy and dampening the festival spirits. People bustled in and the CPD tents were full of eager vets and nurses, sharpening up on their education.

Charmaine Clarke, a locum nurse joined us for the day on our stand to talk to people about “How to be a successful locum”, invaluable advice to the students and veterinary professionals who wanted to know what makes locuming so attractive and how it suits some, better than others. Charmaine was happy to share her experiences and to highlight best practices for working in this way. An expert in her field, Charmaine has worked for A1 Locums for over 11 years in many practices, and still stays loyal to Anne McManus and her nursing team. Watch the video interview.

Apart from the extensive lecture programme with over 100 lectures to choose from, there was a wellness hub, devoted entirely to a series of wellness activities, including yoga and making mediation easy. A place to take some time out and relax. New to the festival this year, they had a Family Hub where veterinary professionals could listen to the CPD, whilst looking after young children.

It was the first visit to Vet Festival for Ryan and Marcus, who joined A1 Locums late last year. Good for them to meet some of the voices they hear on the phone each day.

Friday night was party night, reminiscing about the 80s and dancing to Mad Hen. Certainly, all the dancing kept the team warm. On Saturday our teams changed; Anne and Clare took command of the stand and we had an abundance of veterinary nurses and vets joining us for chats. Good to catch up with up our regulars and meet some new faces.

Also, good to catch up with Fitzpatrick’s Hospital Director, Brian Wright and Roxie O’ Brien, Fitzpatrick’s Clinical Nurse. Sarah Girling, Senior Surgeon for Fitzpatricks’ Orthopaedics, also called by to see Clare to check how Wilbur, our office black Labrador has recovered from his operation she had performed and how the physio programme is helping in his recovery.

Always good to catch up on the latest industry news and listen to new trends. Most importantly see the people who work so hard for us and make the miracles happen.