Stories Great & Small

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Author, retired vet, ex-racing cyclist and head injury victim Julian Earl has many stories to tell, and residents are invited to hear them at an event in Aldersbrook this month. Gill James reports

As pet owners, a trip to the vets is all part and parcel of owning a pet. But have you ever wondered what it is actually like to work as a vet?

Such a profession is often seen as a glamorous occupation, but the reality is mess, noise, dealing with the public, being called out for an emergency in the middle of the night and long hours. Plus, there is the constant threat of injuries and accidents from large, unruly animals. You need a sense of humour to be a vet, and the author of Cows in Trees, vet Julian Earl, certainly has that essential attribute.

His book is written in a warm and light-hearted style, and yes, the cow in the tree story as depicted on the front cover of this hardback book really did happen! And this month, you have the chance to hear Julian telling us about a vet’s life in person.

Julian dreamed of working as a vet from his childhood. He worked in Lancashire and Lincolnshire with both domestic pets and farm livestock for many years.

He was a keen competitive cyclist before suffering life-threatening injuries during a cycle race in 2012 that brought his clinical work to an end. He was left with skull fractures and multiple brain haemorrhages. He was placed into an induced coma and underwent multiple operations. He was not expected to survive.

But not only did this remarkable man survive, he now – due to his head injury – competes as a para-cyclist.

Julian recovered well from his head injury thanks to the work of a remarkable surgeon. Sadly, many brain injury survivors are not so lucky. Headway East London is a local charity, based in Hackney, supporting people affected by brain injuries. It offers specialist support and services to survivors and their family, while also campaigning for greater public awareness.

We all think ‘it will never happen to me’, but every year around 350,000 people are admitted to hospital with an acquired brain injury. That’s one every 90 seconds.

Like Julian, Aldersbrook resident Oli Herz suffered a serious injury caused by a cycling accident. He is grateful for the support he received from Headway East London and now volunteers for them every week. He will also be at the event this month to tell us a little about his own experience and the work of the charity.

Julian and Oli’s talk will take place at Aldersbrook Bowls Club, 34 Aldersbrook Road, E12 5DY on 13 February from 7.30pm (tickets: £5 on the door or £4 in advance; under-16s: free). Email gilljames@btinternet.com. For more information on Headway East London, visit  headwayeastlondon.org