2014 Festive Season and Year End

27 December, 2014

One seems to drift from one day to the next and then it is the end of the year. I cannot believe that it is all but seven months since I last posted on this forum. It certainly was not my intention to be so laid back.

So much has happened this year that it makes it difficult to know where to begin. Perhaps two of the most exciting things for me were the Midlands Literary Festival in Howick and then the Boekbedondered Literary Festival in the little Karroo town of Richmond. What experiences and all credit to the amazing organizer, Darryl Davids. At these functions I had the opportunity to meet Marguerite Poland, the South African author that I find incredible – she has the ability to use words in the same way as Theunis de Jong used colours to paint the most beautiful paintings. Also the late Dr Ian Player, the one and only conservationist to who we must all be thankful; Chris Nicholson, the retired judge and with whom I was at varsity 45 years ago;  Christo Brand who was Madiba’s jailer; then there was Joanne Hichens, a really remarkable author and co-coordinator of short stories. The one and only Jonty Driver and the truly wonderful Dominique Botha who recently published the acclaimed False River – a moving account of her childhood on a Free State farm where her family was marginalized because of their progressive thought. Dennis Waters, an engineer from East London gave a remarkable account of the bridges of the Eastern Cape – and we drive over those bridges regularly without thinking of just what a history each has.

The authors mentioned are but few of the people we were fortunate enough to meet and more than that to spend time with and to see just what motivates them to sit down for hours on end and submit their thoughts and experiences to paper for all of us to share. I will be back for sure.

The Tiger and Tortoise got off to an amazing start with the book launch on the 9th of November. Thanks to all involved and in particular to my family who put it all together with such enthusiasm and grace. Thank you. And to Tracey of Tracey McDonald Publishers for her continued confidence.

And then to the amazing auction of the donated paintings – Estie Schrieber of the Irma Schutte Foundationonce again swelled the coffers of the Dr Mike Hardwich Foundation with the purchase of one of Brian Ducketts paintings for R40, 000 – thank you Estie for your remarkable generosity to something you believe in so fervently. The auction and book sales raised a totally of R77, 000 which goes a long, long way to sterilizing and vaccination of the animals belonging to the underprivileged surrounding Durban. We are now just over 1000 animals done in the last 14 months.

Something that really moved me was the visit by a friend and colleague Bernard Hurwitz and his lovely wifeAnne from Israel. They made a special effort to get to the book launch and Bernard readily put his hand to spaying animals for the Foundation in the week following the book launch.

Bernard and I went through varsity together and on the week-end of the 17th of November we had the excitement of a class reunion of the class of 1974. It was as if no time has passed from when we walked out the gates of Onderstepoort 40 years ago, unless one looked at the individual achievements of each and every one there. We can be well proud of what we have done for the animals of the world – including man!

Other things that happened were the examination of the final year students at Onderstepoort. This I have done on and off for many years and on each occasion one is humbled to see just how hard those students have worked in the hope of qualifying as a vet. Fortunately all those I examined passed and should now be part of the fraternity.

I also had the opportunity to give a lecture to the Northern Natal Veterinary Congress on game capture – or perhaps better on just how this has changed from the mid-70s when I was involved. Veterinary science is an extremely broad based science and to see just how rapidly it advances one can but hope to keep up – an ongoing challenge.

A really moving visit was made to Signet Primary School in Pinetown. The children of one of the grades had a series of collections for the Foundation and collected a sum of money which they donated. This effort supplied sufficient funds to sterilize five animals on the class’s behalf – thank you very much and it would be marvelous to see more schools doing this.

Work in the clinic has continued with very few really exciting cases. To all my clients a huge thank you for your support and an apology for the problems you have encounted getting into the surgery what with all the road works; it has been extremely frustrating and we have had virtually no support or interest from the construction company of the powers-that-be. They started work on the pipeline in April and to date the one end of Shongweni Road is still closed – in fact the pipeline that passes our gate was dug up three times – management or lack thereof? I am not sure.

Hopefully the next posts will be more interesting as we get back to the routine of practice. One exciting announcement is that Melissa Schrieber will be joining us in January as a full time fund raiser for the Foundation. I am certain that this will prove very worthwhile as her energy and enthusiasm is what we need to go forward in our endeavours.

Safe travels and a prosperous New Year.