The local agricultural community was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death on 17th December of Dr Sandy Clark MRCVS at the age of 55.
Sandy was very well known in Shetland. He was a regular speaker at farmers’ meetings and often contributed articles to this newspaper.
After spending 10 years working as a vet in mixed veterinary practice at Conon Bridge, Sandy decided to move to Caithness in 1989, where he began work at the SAC Animal Disease Diagnostic and Surveillance Laboratory and became principle vet at this centre in 1995.
There was an attempt to centralise SAC services in 2001 and to close down the Thurso lab, but Sandy successfully led a political drive to ensure that this valued service to the remote Highland and Islands remained open. The local branches of NFUS and the Scottish Crofters Union were actively involved in this successful campaign.
Shetland farmers were quick to realise the importance of animal health schemes and of taking advantage of our geographical isolation to minimise and eradicate many cattle and sheep diseases. Sandy played an important role in establishing and running the BVD cattle scheme, which was a forerunner of many similar schemes.
Perhaps more familiar to locals was Sandy’s involvement with Edwin Moar and other local vets in the Shetland Flock Health Association. When genotype testing of rams for scrapie started, local sheep breeders embraced the new technology leading to a rapid decline in scrapie and an increase in Sandy’s “95”, “99” and “100” resistant tups. When this was superseded by the NSP testing and compensation scheme in recent years, we all realised that our early testing had indeed been very beneficial and much better value for money.
On his regular trips to Shetland, Sandy was a very popular speaker on all subjects related to animal health. His words of wisdom and infectious humour were enjoyed by many at evening meetings at the NAFC and at local halls. In 2007 he was the key speaker at the NFUS sheep open day at John Abernethy’s farm at Clousta. Sandy made a great contribution to agriculture in Shetland, and will be much missed.