A TYNEDALE veterinary practice is celebrating after receiving an award.

Orchard House Vets, which has branches in Hexham, Stocksfield and Bellingham, has been named the Best Veterinary Care provider in the North-East by the SME Northern Enterprise Awards.

Tim Pearson, owner of the Orchard House veterinary centres, said: “It was a complete surprise, but a very nice one.

“It’s brilliant to get the recognition for everybody because the staff have worked incredibly hard over the last two years.

“It’s been a very tough period for everybody but to get recognised and for us to be seen as leading in the field is really nice.”

The business, which was first set up in 1998, received the award after being judged the best entry out of 21 surgeries which were nominated.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its continuing effects have increased the difficulties those working in the veterinary profession across the country face.

“We’ve still been doing all our client contact in our rear car parks – we’ve been taken the pets in and then bringing them out,” explained Tim.

“It requires more time, there’s much more toing and froing, and sometimes it’s been snowing and sometimes it’s been raining.

“But our clients have been brilliant in understanding the problems we’ve had and understanding the way we’ve had to try and keep everyone safe.”

Tim added that the workload also increased with many people buying dogs over lockdown in 2020.

He said the practice had hired three extra members of staff in the past year to ensure people’s pets could still be seen quickly.

Looking forward to the future, Tim said the company had plans to increase the size of its Stocksfield branch.

“We’re adding another consulting room so that more people can be seen and two vets can work there at once more easily,” he said.

Tim added that he also hoped to find premises with more space in Hexham at some point so he can expand the services at the town’s branch.

Orchard House has now set its sights on the national Petplan Veterinary Awards 2021.

It has previously been nominated before, but is yet to win one of the awards, often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the veterinary industry.

To nominate Orchard House, visit www.petplan.co.uk/about-petplan/vets/awards/