Nikki Manston is the Head Nurse at Pilgrims Veterinary Practice, our neighbours at WVS HQ. Alongside her daily work at the practice, Nikki has volunteered on numerous WVS projects to aid our work, and even skydived for our sister charity Mission Rabies! This is her story…
I have been part of the team at Pilgrims for almost four years now as Head Nurse and thrive on the diversity and challenges that the job is constantly presenting to me.Having had a varied past based on a mixture of thoroughbred horseracing and breeding and farm work, I began my veterinary nursing journey back in 1995. I have been privileged to gain valuable experience working in small animal first-opinion practice and specialist referral hospitals, where I gained an advanced clinical nursing diploma with the Royal Veterinary College in 2014. I always had a yearning to work in mixed practice so that I could continue to utilise my farm and equine experience, so was delighted to be asked to join the Pilgrims team in 2014.
Every day is different! We could have anything from dogs and cats, to chickens, sheep, goats, calves, horses and donkeys arrive at the practice at any time. We have even had the odd swan or goose to x-ray, or even the smallest creatures like a ferret, guinea-pig, rabbit or hamster. The team are fabulous; they embrace these challenges and we work together as a strong unit, mucking in together and maintaining good spirits along the way. Some days are very tiring and it can take its toll, but we can usually rally together and manage to maintain morale and enjoy the satisfaction of a good day’s efforts.
I have also had the great fortune to be involved in the work of WVS. In 2015, I spent three weeks in Malawi working alongside the BSPCA in Blantyre and the Mission Rabies team. I worked with another volunteer vet and we neutered over 100 dogs and cats and vaccinated about 300-400 dogs against rabies out and about in the villages. We also got a couple of days off to visit Majete Safari Park and Lake Malawi, which was such a treat. Having the opportunity to see elephants, hippopotami, warthogs, antelope to name a few in their natural habitat was awesome, despite the many huge creepy crawlies we also had to endure! I have also done a tandem skydive to raise funds for the Mission Rabies projects, which was so exciting and I’m longing to do the next one! In June of this year I am off to Chiang Mai in Thailand to help with a training course being run by WVS. This is to help student vets and nurses collaborate their clinical skills and improve their surgical techniques. We also hope to get a little experience with the outreach project at a nearby elephant sanctuary which I’m very much looking forward to.
Life is good, and I also haven’t mentioned that I do have a very supportive husband and two sons, aged 19 and 21 years, a dog, cat and a horse, the latter who I have just started to do endurance riding. At home we recently acquired a ‘tuk tuk’ business, so will be spending the summer when not at work giving rides around the New Forest, and providing transport for weddings, proms and parties.
If you’re a vet nurse looking to use your skills at one of our international projects, and swap a week of general practice for the extremes of field work, click here to see all the opportunities WVS has to offer, or click here for Mission Rabies projects.