Adventures in Veterinary Medicine

Category: Peru



The book is dedicated to four people, three Peruvians and one Brit. Inginiero Luis (Lucho) Lozada Casapia, the man who had the inspiration to ask the British Government for a project to set up a veterinary laboratory, under the auspices not of the government but of the farmers’ co-operative of which he was president; Srta Aurora Salazar Calcinas, the project secretary throughout my stay in the country; Sra Roxana Bustinza de Vergeray, the first employee of the laboratory; and Ing. Reynaldo (Reggie) Roberts Billig, the Honorary British Consul in Arequipa, were the Peruvians. Keith Haskell, CMG, CVO, British Ambassador to Perú, was the Brit.  Keith died before the book was published, but his widow Maria Luisa (Toni) was able to come to the London launch in Daunt Books, Holland Park.  Aurora came to Britain to take part in the launch parties. The Peruvian Ambassador to Great Britain, Srta Susana de la Puente Wiese, who was about to demit office  and consequently too busy to attend, sent Srta Silvana Mendoza to the launch.

Turnout was excellent and people came from Somerset, the Cotswolds, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, and Suffolk also my granddaughter Rebecca came from Manchester joining other members of Roger and Maxine’s families. Robert Max from the Barbican Trio, Ralph de Souza and David Waterman of the Endellion Quartet,  who had stayed with us when they gave concerts in Arequipa, also joined the party. It is probable that there were more people from outside the capital than Londoners!  Srta Mendoza opened the formal proceedings and apologized for the absence of the Ambassador.   The talks and readings followed the same pattern as the launches in Edinburgh and London. Toni Haskell was presented with a copy of the book in memory of Keith, and Aurora was given a copy for herself, and books to take back to Perú for Lucho, Reggie and Roxana.

Maxine again produced the Pisco Sours, the papas Huancainas,  and ocopa; there were also the nibbles that Aurora had brought from Perú. There were some friends that we had not seen for several years and so the party went with a swing.

A Vet in Peru

In the  second volume of his memoirs,  Roger tells the story of a pioneering British veterinary aid project, established in conjunction with a local farmers’ co-operative, to bring self-financing veterinary services to thousands of dairy, farmers and llama and alpaca keepers in the high Andes in southern Perú.

This heart-warming story tells how a team of young Peruvians under Roger’s leadership built and delivered a new veterinary service to farmers in an area the size of England against challenging odds. A resurgence of the Shining Path terrorist group threatened the safety of the team and the farmers; terrible inflation of the local currency wreaked havoc with an already tight budget – not to mention constant battles with British and Peruvian bureaucracy.

But the book is not just about animal diseases, the challenges of running an aid project, nor how Roger’s wife, Maxine flourished as a concert pianist. It is about the country that he came to love: the art, the Andean music, the coast with its huge populations of birds and sea mammals, the glorious scenery, the many ancient civilizations and above all the delightful people fighting to survive through a period of massive economic turmoil and  terrorism, yet still managing to smile.

‘A Vet in Perú will be published at the end of September and to celebrate this, Aurora Salazar the former project secretary is coming from Perú for the launch parties which are being held in:

Edinurgh – 21st September

Dumfries – 25th September

London – 27th September.

I have tried to send an invitation to all those people who lived or worked near one of the venues: if you have already replied to an invitation please accept my apologies for bothering you again! If you have not received an invitation to a party and want to come to one, please write to Roger on [email protected]

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