ROGER Martin (B.Vet. Med. M.R.C.V.S.), who has died aged 81, was a countryman vet who loved his job so much that he claimed “I’ve never done a day’s work in my life”.

His cheerful and practical approach to his work won him legions of faithful customers – and life-long friends – particularly among the farming community.

Roger was born into a long line of Vale of Evesham market gardeners, and seemed destined for a life in the fields and orchards.

However, at a young age he declared his intention to be a “dog doctor” and won a place at Prince Henry’s Grammar School.

He always maintained that academic studies never came easily to him, but he achieved the grades needed to take up a place at the Royal Veterinary College.

There he found himself the proverbial fish out of-water. His broad Worcestershire accent earned him the nickname of “Scarecrow”.

His spoken contributions during lectures were invariably met with a chorus of “oo arr! oo arr!”

However, while at the college he met his future wife Wendy, who worked there as a histologist (and who clearly preferred him to the much-better-dressed posh boys).

Not expecting to pass his final exams, he had returned to work on the land when he discovered that he had in fact made the grade – but he missed his graduation ceremony, as it was the height of plum-picking season.

His early years of veterinary work included a year in Canada, where he caught rabies from a cow.

The farmer insisted the animal was frothing at the mouth due to a chunk of potato stuck in its throat. As Roger checked its mouth, his arm was thoroughly chomped.

The infection was diagnosed only two days before it would have become fatal. A very unpleasant – but life-saving – series of injections followed.

IN PICTURES: Your pets enjoying the summer sun

Returning to England, Roger took various veterinary jobs before founding his own practice at the age of 40.

The early days of the business would perhaps be best illustrated by Mr Heath Robinson.

The consulting room was a small dilapidated Victorian conservatory, the operating theatre was an old cart shed and the drug dispensary was quite literally “within the reach of (his) children”.

Fortunately, they only ever ate the bovine worming tablets.

However, the business grew, attracting customers from an ever-widening area. It wasn’t long before there were two custom-built surgeries, one in Pershore (at The Croft, where he lived until his death) and one in Evesham (next door to his childhood home).

Animals and their owners always seemed to enjoy their consultations. He believed that being a vet was “as much an art as a science”.

He would diagnose most ailments by stroking, observing and applying gentle pressure here and there.

This was disguised as “making a fuss” of the animal. In the meantime, he would keep the owners relaxed and happy – and most often laughing.

He understood that happy relaxed people make happy relaxed animals, and vice versa.

His last veterinary treatment was just a few days before he died. A young terrier had severely sprained her dew claw.

She was howling with pain as he picked her up. Within moments she was quite content. After she jumped off his lap, he held up the claw. He had cleanly snapped it off without the dog even noticing.

After retiring shortly before his 60th birthday, Roger and Wendy travelled widely, including to both the Arctic and Antarctica.

In later years, as he became increasingly immobile, the recollection of these travels became a source of great comfort. If he had any advice to pass on to fellow veterinary surgeons, it would be “get on and travel now! You can’t do it stuck in a chair!”

He also continued to learn Spanish, even when he was certain that he’d never again travel abroad.

Despite being unsteady on his feet in his later years, he still managed to maintain his extensive and beautiful garden.

It was while “pottering about” and feeding his koi carp that he tripped on a loose paving stone, banged his head and suffered a stroke on July 17 2020.

He is survived by his wife Wendy, his children Nicola, David and Mathew and grandchildren Fergus and Lucy.

His funeral will held at Pershore Abbey at noon on Tuesday, August 25 – his birthday.


In the Worcester News, we are publishing an Obituaries page every week to give families who have placed an announcement with us, the chance to celebrate the life of someone they have lost.

If you would like us to print an obituary for someone you cared about, you can complete a form here or contact our Community Content Editor Barry Kinghorn at