Vet, 61, was found hanged at holiday home in Finland, inquest hears

World-leading veterinary surgeon, 61, who had bipolar disorder was found hanged at his holiday home in Finland after retiring from the Royal Veterinary College in London where he was a senior lecturer, inquest hears

  • Dr Nick Short, from Berkshire, would often ‘go quiet’ and disappear, coroner told
  • He had recently retired from Royal Veterinary College, London, after 20 years
  • His body was found in February in an outbuilding at his holiday home in Finland
  • For confidential support call Samaritans on 116123 or visit www.samaritans.org 

A world-leading veterinary surgeon who had bipolar disorder was found hanged at his holiday home in Finland, an inquest has heard.  

Dr Nick Short, from Reading, Berkshire, would ‘go quiet’ and disappear at times when his mental stress came to the forefront, a coroner was told earlier today.

He had recently retired from the Royal Veterinary College, London, as the Head of Electronic Media, a role he had filled for almost 20 years, before he was found hanged earlier this year. 

Dr Short’s body was found on February 15 in an outbuilding at his holiday home in Hanko, Finland, alongside a note just two days before his 62nd birthday. 

Dr Nick Short, from Reading, Berkshire, would ‘go quiet’ and disappear at times when his mental stress came to the forefront, a coroner was told earlier today

In the opening of his inquest today, the assistant coroner for Berkshire, Alison McCormick, heard that the vet had suffered from bipolar mood effective disorder throughout his life. 

Following an autopsy in Finland, doctors confirmed Dr Short, who was married and a father, had died as result of hanging.

During his time at the prestigious veterinary school, Dr Short was the driving force behind WikiVet – a free resource to veterinary professionals around the world.

Dr Short graduated from the University of Bristol and then completed an MSc in Tropical Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh before he co-founded Vet Aid in 1988 along with two other veterinary colleagues. 

Vet Aid assists some of the poorest communities in Africa that depend on animals for their survival.

It raises awareness in the UK, through veterinary school workshops and presentations and, as well as this, Vet Aid offers students at veterinary schools to volunteer through there Extra Mural Studies program each year.

He worked as a volunteer vet, Government adviser and consultant around the world and he was supporting Vet Aid in the UK before his tragic death.

He had recently retired from the Royal Veterinary College, London, before he was found hanged earlier this year

In an online remembrance book, friend Pete Wedderburn said: ‘I met Nick in 1985, thirty six years ago. 

‘He was working in Swaziland at the time, as an enthusiastic and idealistic young vet. He never lost that idealism and his enthusiasm continued too, only diminished at those sad times when his bipolar disease quietened him.

‘He was lovely and loving, gentle and kind, thoughtful and intelligent, altruistic and selfless, a model of who a good human being should be. It is a paradox that while it was depression that took him away from us, my memories are only of Nick laughing, smiling and being cheerful.

‘Perhaps it was his care for others that meant that when he was depressed, we often didn’t know it: instead of complaining, Nick just went quiet and absent. 

‘Now, of course, we wish we had known more about his pain. We wish we might have been able to do more to help him, we wish so much that he was still here.

‘Our thoughts are with Malla, the girls, and Nick’s extended family. If we, his friends, feel such pain at his loss, how much more awful it must be for them. 

‘We were lucky to be in your orbit Nick. You left the world a better place than it was when you arrived: from Vet Aid to WikiVet and much more, you did so much for others.’ 

Friend Jerry Salt added: ‘Since meeting Nick when we started at vet school at Bristol all those years ago, he has enhanced my life and opened my eyes to so much that I would otherwise never have seen. He never changed for me in all that time.

‘Nick’s legacy rightly lives on with his charitable work in Africa and his academic enterprises from eLearning to WikiVet itself. Life will never be quite the same knowing that we’ll never meet again.’

The family did not want flowers at the funeral, instead asking mourners to donate to Bipolar UK, a ‘charity close to Nick’s heart’.

Similarly, grieving friend Louise Curtis, said: ‘Nick truly was my idol. I told him this once but I’m sure his vast modesty didn’t let the words in. 

‘I hope he knew how many people thought highly of him and how loved he was.

‘We met when he was designated as my tutor in my second year as a student at RVC. He continued to be my biggest support and source of inspiration throughout my time at RVC and afterwards, as we worked closely together for Vet Aid.

‘The huge number of contacts and relationships Nick had built with people all over the world never ceased to amaze me. That is a testament in itself to how highly he is thought of.

‘His passion and kindness was completely inspirational. He had so much more to give to this world and I hope to help carry on his legacy through Vet Aid. 

‘He has influenced my career and life ever since we met and will continue to do so, always.’

Sitting at the inquest opening in Reading, Berkshire, Ms McCormick confirmed the full inquest will be heard on June 21.

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. 

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