Jo Hardy, 26, found fame on the BBC2 show Young Vets in 2014. Born and raised in Tunbridge Wells she has since enjoyed a busy career that sees her juggling her veterinary work with special assignments in Africa. She has also found the time to write two books and get engaged. Here she tells The Times how she manages to fit everything in
“I wanted to become a vet due to a mixture of things. I like to solve problems and biology was always my best subject at school but my main motivation was actually because I know that helping animals has a direct effect on their owners’ lives – whether it be emotionally for a pet owner, or for someone in a Third World country who relies on their donkey to help them survive.
It wasn’t my childhood dream to become a vet: I actually only decided I’d like to be one after I’d started my A levels and had to switch the subjects I was studying. But I think that’s a plus point because I made a more mature decision about my career path.
Animals can be pretty hard to work with. They scream at you for putting a needle in them and leave with no concept of appreciation! I always wish I could explain to them that what I do helps but I love being around them – even if they’re not so keen to be around me!
If people ask if I have one particular favourite animal I reply that it changes on a daily basis. If I had to specify though I’d say it’s probably either horses or rhinos. Horses because I’ve grown up with two beauties who are like my babies and have so much personality. Rhinos are incredibly majestic creatures which are in such decline from the poaching crisis that you can’t help but appreciate them while they’re still on this planet.
My involvement with the Young Vets show was a complete coincidence. I was just at the right place at the right time. ITN (who were filming it for BBC2) approached my university asking to film several final year students for a year. They initially picked six and one of them was in my study group so the cameras were around me and I was in the background on a lot of footage.
Then I bumped into the producer of the show on a farm in Devon when she was scouting for filming locations and we got chatting. A few days later I got an email asking if I would like to be included in the show.
I started off feeling terrified and nervous and like it was a big mistake but after a few months I relaxed and started to enjoy it. I loved the fact that the film crew became great friends, too. I still keep in contact with the team but the show stopped after a year of filming.
I had kept a diary during this time which I always thought would make an interesting behind-the-scenes book. So I pitched the idea and got a double book deal with Harper Collins. I’ve been very fortunate as the literary world is a difficult one for new authors so to have published two books is very exciting.
Since I graduated two years ago I’ve been a bit of a wanderer and have worked all over the world including South Africa, Uganda, Morocco and Gambia. But England is still home to me even though I’ve loved exploring the different areas of the African continent, and learning about all the cultures.
I’m getting married in October and planning to move to South Africa, where my fiancé is from, by the start of 2017.
I’ll be doing a little locum work in the UK for the next few months before the wedding. It’s so different to work abroad but I like how being in lots of different places builds up skills.
As for my professional plans for the future, who knows? My mind changes on a daily basis but my long term goal would be to work in a charity role, maybe as a veterinary advisor. Doing that would mean by helping animals in places of need, my work would impact upon those people who require it most in the world.”
Jo’s second book Tales From A Wild Vet is out now priced £7.99 and published by Harper Collins. Jo will be talking about her work and signing copies of her book at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells on Monday July 11 at 7pm.