A vet with a special interest in ducks who used his diagnostic abilities, problem-solving skills and a common-sense approach to improve bird health and welfare.
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Keith Richard Gooderham, BVSc, DPMP, MRCVS, (b) 1937, (q) Liverpool 1962. Died 9 December 2019.
Keith grew up in north London. After completing National Service, he studied veterinary science and saw practice with Joan Joshua in Finchley. He was always a cheerful man with a great sense of humour.
His interest in poultry medicine may have been sparked by Frank Jordan at Liverpool who was an internationally recognised expert in the field at that time. Keith went on to work with him on avian mycoplasmas at Leahurst after graduating. He then joined Cherry Valley Farms, working on mycoplasma eradication in poultry as well as hysterectomy-derived high health status pigs.
His enthusiasm for, and expertise in, duck health and welfare was unique, and he was called on to advise government and other groups on waterfowl and to contribute to textbooks. One such role involved chairing the Red Tractor Technical Advisory Committee on ducks.
He became a consultant for Maple Leaf Farms in the USA, and MT remembers the impact Keith had on his professional development and fulfilment, as well as that of his colleagues. Keith was a skilled teacher and mentor. He shared his vast experience and expertise using storytelling and by rolling up his sleeves and demonstrating what needed to be done. Through his skilful communication he trained many farm managers on duck management, problem-solving and how we could help the business prosper. His support, especially during challenging times, gained trust and respect.
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He saw the role of the specialist poultry vet as having one foot on the farm and the other in the laboratory
After a period at Buxted Chicken, he founded his own practice in Cambridgeshire. It was one of the key facilities at that time, providing testing for salmonella in collaboration with colleagues in academia and government laboratories. He saw the role of the specialist poultry veterinarian as having ‘one foot on the farm and the other in the laboratory’.
In 1987, he was appointed as one of a small number of foundation diplomates of the RCVS diploma in poultry medicine and production and served as an examiner for RCVS postgraduate qualifications in the field for many years.
In the 1990s, he again became a company veterinarian, this time for the Hillsdown Group, and his practice and laboratory served the needs of different companies in that group. PM first met Keith at a meeting at the Houghton Poultry Research Laboratory in 1990. It was typical of him that by 10 am, he had already carried out an audit of a poultry hatchery 100 miles away (and had a stack of Petri dishes to prove it).
Keith was a long-time supporter of the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) and served as its president in 1983/84. He endowed the ‘Keith Gooderham Waterfowl Lecture’, giving the inaugural lecture himself in 2007. He was appointed an honorary BVPA member and inducted into the World Poultry Veterinary Association’s ‘Hall of Honour’ in 2017. He was the lead GB representative of the Poultry Veterinary Study Group of the EU for at least a decade.
Keith remained an enthusiast for his chosen field throughout his life and used his skills for the benefit of veterinary colleagues and poultry keepers. He retained his great sense of humour from his student days, and used it with consummate skill. His incisive diagnostic ability, clarity of thought, problem-solving skills, and common-sense approach helped us all – colleagues, students and farmers – to improve bird health and welfare.
His interest in ducks and in the BVPA continued into retirement. He remained in the village of Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire, where he had been in practice, living next door to his good friends John and Eunice, with whom he shared many interests. Keith suffered a stroke in 2015. He made a good recovery, but his mobility was restricted and he was no longer able to drive. He greatly enjoyed visits from friends and colleagues and was always happy reminiscing about the past. Sadly, John died about a year ago; Keith felt his loss deeply and was dependent on the companionship and support of Eunice. A number of health issues made his last few months rather a struggle, but his mind remained lively.
Keith served the poultry industry in many roles with great energy and distinction and he will be remembered with great affection by those of us fortunate to have known him and to have called him a friend.
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