Jim Gourley

Vet and charity campaigner


James Gourley, veterinary surgeon, farmer and charity worker: born Crossbar, Co Down 22 July 1923; married 1950 Ruth Young (two sons, two daughters); died Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire 28 December 2005.

If ever a man lived a full life, it was Jim Gourley. As well as running a busy veterinary practice, he had almost a full-time involvement in community and animal welfare charities and a close involvement in farming.

Gourley came from a rural background from which he inherited a respect for hard work and for his fellow men - and for animals - which influenced his whole life. He was born on his father's farm in Northern Ireland, retaining an active interest in it, and in farming generally. While a student at Edinburgh veterinary school in 1943, he simultaneously ran the farm for six months during his father's illness.

It was to pet animals rather than farm livestock that he devoted his main professional interest, setting up in practice in Ashton-under-Lyne. He began in 1953 a long association with the RSPCA, chairing the local branch for almost 20 years. He organised meetings between animal charities and the police aimed at reducing the stray animal population and encouraging responsible pet ownership. He encouraged local vets to follow his example in providing treatment at reduced charges for those on state benefits. In 1997 the RSPCA gave him the Queen Victoria bronze medal for "long and meritorious service in the cause of animal welfare".

His charitable work took on another dimension after the birth of his first son, who was found to have learning difficulties. Dismayed at the lack of help available to people in that situation, Gourley joined Mencap, an organisation to which he devoted time and energy for 50 years, 43 of those as local branch chairman. In 2003, he received a plaque from Mencap to recognise his dedication to improving the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families. For his work in the wider field of charitable functions, he was appointed a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation in 2002, even though he was not himself a Rotarian.

Such manifold activities did not hamper Gourley's efforts in seeking to improve the practice of veterinary medicine. A founder member of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association in 1958, he was prominent in the affairs of several other veterinary bodies. He was a frequent, and sometimes contentious, speaker at conferences. In 1991 he was a member of a team formed to advise Edinburgh University, on the future of veterinary education. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in recognition of his eminence in services to veterinary science in 1994.

The advent of rheumatoid arthritis in his early fifties restricted his mobility but not his many activities. Although clearly a man of determined character and strong views, Jim Gourley is remembered by colleagues as much for his kindliness and consideration (one cold winter he bought string vests for all his staff) as for his 24-hour devotion to work.

Edward Boden

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms