Obituary: Joan Joshua

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Joan Olive Joshua, veterinary surgeon and dog breeder, born Finchley 11 July 1912, died Wirral 21 February 1993.

JOAN JOSHUA was a no-nonsense, hard-working veterinary surgeon who pioneered the role of women in her profession. To students at the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Liverpool University she was 'Auntie' - a firm but understanding lecturer who gave a sound grounding in dog and cat medicine and surgery backed by equally sound advice on the tyro veterinarian's choice of career.

Her academic work followed years as a single-handed vet in north London, where she set up in practice - in her mother's front room - in 1939. The limited facilities at her disposal did not hinder her scientific investigations, inspired by the patients she treated. One such study led to her becoming the first woman Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, in 1950.

Joan Joshua came from an impecunious background and had to work hard to achieve her ambition of going to veterinary school. Once qualified, she fought, and won, the battle to establish the place of women in her profession. Her activities in opposing the discrimination against females led to the formation of the Society of Women Veterinary Surgeons, of which she was the first president. She went on to become powerfully active in working for the many changes in veterinary education and in the Veterinary Surgeons Acts which led to the existing monopoly in the diagnosis and treatment of animals.

She was elected the first woman to be a member of the RCVS Council in 1953. An effective councillor, she served until 1966. At the age of 54 her career took a new turn. Joshua accepted the post of Reader in the Department of Clinical Studies at Liverpool veterinary school. Her years of experience in practice made her a confident, if somewhat authoritarian, lecturer.

On her retirement in 1973, she flung herself almost full-time into her lifelong hobby, the breeding and showing of chow-chow dogs. She lectured to breeders, judged competitions and successfully exhibited her own dogs, including at Cruft's. The widespread travelling involved enabled her to indulge another of her interests, motoring. An accomplished driver, she was a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.