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
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own