Above: Adam Hurn (right) with Adam Henson
Over 300 people attended the gathering at Askrigg on November 26 to celebrate the life of Adam Hurn where he was remembered for being a wonderful, caring vet with a tremendous appetite for adventure.
The celebration was held at Bainbridge Vets and one participant commented afterwards: “Adam’s enthusiasm for life and living came across so powerfully. Peoples’ warmth and affection for him, their respect and admiration shone through.”
Local farmer, William Lambert and his family commented: “Adam was a wonderful vet and friend to the whole farming community and we will miss him dreadfully.”
Nobby Dimon scripted the story of Adam’s early life for the celebration and this was enacted by Dan and Amy Cockett.
Adam was born in London in November 1951. His family moved to Manchester when his father, a TV film director, was involved in the early days of Coronation Street, and Adam was s sent to a preparatory school on the South coast. It was there, during his lonely walks, that he became interested in animals. He then attended Westminster School and should have gone on to Cambridge University but was unable to do so due to illness. So instead he hitched lifts to Greece and after a year there gained a place at Liverpool University to study veterinary science.
It was in the university’s sports centre that he met Vanda and they were married in September 1975. Following graduation he first worked with a practice in Liverpool which led to him not only being the vet to Police dogs but also to Knowsley Safari Park. At the latter his jobs included castrating a cross-eyed tiger and lancing very large boils on elephants.
From Liverpool he moved to a mixed practice in Saffron Walden and then a friend from his Westminster School days challenged him to volunteer to work with UNAIS (International Service with the UN).
He and Vanda at first declined because they had two young children. But then, in October 1981, they became possibly the first family to volunteer, he as a vet and Vanda as a teacher. They travelled to a very remote part of Bolivia with their five-year-old and one-year-old daughters, Alice and Daisy, to work with the Guarani Indians. Their new home had no running water nor electricity.
One of Adam’s key projects was to show how, with good management, pigs could be bred to make maximum use of soya and maize and so provide an income and food for families. He also developed a simple water filtration scheme to improve the quality and health of villagers. While in Bolivia they adopted their son Marcos.
When they returned to England four years later Adam was looking for another challenge. He had worked as a student in Bainbridge and was happy to accept David Metcalfe’s invitation to join the practice in Wensleydale.
He served the community as a vet for nearly 30 years and one of his client’s commented: “He was a most rare human-being: wise, thoughtful, considerate, compassionate…the list goes on, including the-best-vet-ever!”
Vanda recounted that the most challenging and heart breaking time for them was during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. With David in quarantine she said Adam worked frenetically to try and save the animals of all the farms. “He was constantly phoning the Ministry in Leeds to challenge decisions,” she added.
Following that he was interviewed by Adam Henson for the BBC’s Countryfile programme about the broad range of vet work in the Dales.
Retirement gave Adam and Vanda the opportunity to travel overland through South America from Mexico to Buenos Aires, during which they spent over a month back among the Guarani Indians – who now had running water, electricity and even broadband.
At the funeral at Skipton Crematorium Vanda said: “Life’s an adventure. It certainly was with Adam and I’ve loved every minute of the adventure – from our early days in Liverpool… to Bolivia, India, Spain and our wonderful Wensleydale.”
At the celebration at Askrigg Adam’s huge sense of adventure was also remembered. His love of windsurfing was described by David West-Watson. “We have travelled to some very windy locations for some ‘intense water therapy’. Adam suffered the same bug as me – he loved it when it was extreme – the slight fear and enormous exhilaration,” he said.
Adam went on windsurfing courses in Brazil, Spain and Ireland, as well as at Tiree with Peter Hart, described by David West-Watson as a teaching guru for windsurfers. Hart sent the following email:“Adam was the inspiration for the saying ‘age is just a number’. After four days of gales when others were flagging, Adam would be out there bouncing around like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh … “
Adam’s insatiable spirit of adventure was also well known in Wensleydale. Will Daykin described the adventures the Wensleydale Mountain Biking group had had thanks to Adam finding “short cuts” by looking at Google maps. “We have an annual Christmas ride down from Tan Hill. Adam’s ‘extra bit we could do’ actually involved a section of rock climbing,’” Will said.
The others who participated in the celebration included: Adam’s daughter, Alice Hurn; Helen Appleton ; Andrew Fagg; Peter Nettleton; Richard Fawcett; and Dan and Amy Cockett.
Vanda especially thanked the staff at the neurosurgery unit at the James Cook University Hospital and neurosurgeon Mr Varma. She spoke of how Adam established a mutually respectful relationship with Mr Varma, the neurosurgeon, and they discussed all the details of his treatment including when to stop it.
He died at home in Bainbridge on October 10. “Adam felt he had the best possible treatment,” Vanda said.
Donations are being shared between two Askrigg charities: Low Mill Outdoor Centre of which Adam had been the chair, and Yorebridge Sports and Leisure Centre of which Vanda is the chair. Donations can still be made via http://www.yorebridgesportandleisure.co.uk/donate/ or Yorebridge Centre, Askrigg, DL8 3BJ tel. 01969 650060.