HE has helped tens of thousands of animals over the course of a 40 year career.

But now Marcus Harrington, 62, has decided the time is right for him to call it a day.

The last 30 years have been spent at the at his own practice - the Ark Veterinary Centre in Lexden - where he has become known, not only for his array of spectacular bow ties, but also his kindness, care and compassion for people’s pets.

“I have been fortunate people have trusted me with their beloved pets for so long,” he said.

“I always aimed to have empathy for the animals, and for the clients.

“A lot of people who have brought in their animals have become my friends.

“Of course, there have been happy times and sad times.”

Mr Harrington’s specialisms include reproduction but also cancer and other long-term ailments. He takes great pride in extending the lives of animals and ensuring they are as happy as possible.

“In some cases I and the owners have managed to keep them alive so much longer than would have been expected,” he said.

“I think of someone like Vlad - a rottweiler - who is a real gentle giant.

“We kept him in an incredible quality of life.

“The most unusual animal I have been asked to look at professionally is a stick insect.

“There was not much I could do about that.”

One of the most difficult parts of being a vet is saying when an animal’s time is up.

“You have to show compassion and give comfort to the owner,” he said.

“Hopefully, at times, it can give them a little bit of relief.

“But these animals are so loved, they become such a part of the family.”

An animal lover from a young age, Mr Harrington decided he wanted to be a vet aged 14.

After completing his A-Levels at Colchester Royal Grammar School he then studied at the Royal Veterinary College in London before embarking on his career.

He spent time in Wales, Cheshire and Australia before coming back to Colchester to his own practice and created a successful partnership with colleague Peter Busfield.

“I was very fortunate to know what I wanted to do and became a vet at 22,” he said.

“It is a completely different profession now.

“The rules and regulations are much stricter and the standards are much higher.

“In the early days, once you qualified it was very much just a case of going out there and doing it.

“The other big change is the amount of women coming into the profession.

“I would estimate now some 80 per cent of new vets are female.

“It was incredibly male dominated when I started with the majority of us following in the footsteps of their father’s who were vets, farmers or in other similar roles.”

Over the course of his career, Mr Harrington has been the president of the Essex Veterinary Society, the chairman and president of The Old Colcestrian Society and a borough councillor for five years.

But he has no plans to go back into politics.

Instead, he is training to become a yoga instructor and is already a huge advocate of the benefits it can provide.

“I want to do some charity work and will probably do some locum work as a vet, but I am going to travel to India and I want to become an instructor,” he said.

“I have always been sporty and did some yoga as a child.

“I love the physical aspect to it.

“My retirement has happened quite quickly and it has surprised a lot of people but now is the right time to go.”

Despite embarking on a new career, Mr Harrington is still an animal lover and keeps an array of pets of at his home in West Bergholt.

“I always say I have two donkeys, a number of dogs, two guinea pigs and four children,” he said.

“During lockdown, the two donkeys, Godfrey and Humphrey, have become big attractions in the village.

“People have enjoyed coming up and petting them and I am always happy to see that.”

Anyone who wants to contact Mr Harrington can do so via Ark or email him on marcus.harrington@hotmail.co.uk.