Going to the vet can be a stressful and unpleasant experience, especially if your pet is sick.

However, having someone there who knows the right thing to say can be a weight off for any pet owner.

One Tyne Valley veterinary practice has been able to soothe concerned cat owners and distraught dog owners thanks to having the best veterinary receptionist in the country - officially!

Cristina Paterson, whose official title is Branch Co-ordinator at Orchard House Veterinary Centre, was nominated for the British Veterinary Receptionist Association’s Veterinary Receptionist of the Year Award in 2020.

It was announced a week before the country was plunged into the first lockdown in March 2020 that Cris had won the award, which unfortunately, she is yet to pick up.

Dr Jill Crawford, who nominated Cris for the award and is Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Orchard House Vets, said: “Cris is an absolute pleasure to work with.

“She’s a great work colleague and the glue which holds the practice team together.

“Sometimes, things can be focused just on the vet, but we can’t work without a team behind us, an Cris is a very important part of that team.”

Along with the nomination, Jill had to submit a video of Cris at work, along with testaments from her work colleagues.

Jill has worked with Cris for 14 years at the Stocksfield Branch of Orchard House Vets and they have been through a lot together.

Jill said: “We have been through everything we could possibly encounter in our working lives. It can be joyful and wonderful being a vet, but also very upsetting and sad at times.

“Throughout that time, I have never seen Cris anything more than positive, kind, and supportive.

“She’ll find a way of helping everybody who crosses her path, whether it is someone coming in with their puppy for its first vaccination, or sadly someone saying goodbye to their pet.

“Cris always knows the right words to say.”

Upon winning her award, Jill mentioned that Cris was very self-deprecating and said that there were lots of excellent people in her position across the country. However, Jill said: “It can be a complicated, demanding and stressful role. Cris does it with a smile on her face and what makes her stand out is her care for the rest of the team. Having someone looking out for the staff makes a huge difference to us all.”

Cris has mostly worked at the Orchard House’s Stocksfield surgery, but due to her extensive experience, Cris is being shared between the Stocksfield and Hexham branches.

Orchard House Vets has a total of three surgeries in Northumberland, the third is located in Bellingham.