roots of the Paragon Veterinary Group stretch back to 1938 when a practice
was established on Townhead Road, Dalston by John Cubby who qualified from
Liverpool University in 1935. Initially the main workload was farm animals
and horses, and many of those original farming families are still clients
today. Over the years the practice has expanded to work with small
animals, exotic species and birds and it has dealt with public health
services as well
Practice Building in 1992
Consulting Room 1992
David Black bought the practice from Roy Sutherland and changed its name
to the Caldew Veterinary Group to identify more directly with the area,
and in the same year moved to the premises at Carlisle House. This
imposing building was originally built as a Vicarage, and had also been
used as a Children's Home and a Masonic Lodge before being extensively
refurbished and reborn as the Caldew Veterinary Centre.
Work begins on Carlisle House
Carlisle House opens in 1994
the adjoining property, Crake Corner, which was originally the stable and
coaching block for Carlisle House, was purchased. This allowed us to
extend and improve animal care facilities, particularly for the treatment
of farm animals and horses.
Caldew Veterinary Group formed a link with Paul May and Associates of
Penrith, and bought Townhead Farm at Newbiggin, Stainton near Penrith.
Development continued there throughout 2000, with a view to opening a
facility there to complement the Veterinary Surgery in Dalston.
Townhead Farm, Newbiggin 2000
The Yard at Townhead Farm 2000
2000, a further link was formed, with Paragon ET of Hexham, a specialist
animal breeding company. Paragon ET
was set up in 1993 by Will Christie and Stuart Mullan (now retired) as a
specialist cattle embryo transfer practice serving the north of England,
Scotland & Northern Ireland. In
its early days, the business operated out of a building at Will Christie’s
home, then moved to larger premises at Hexham Auction Mart in 1997, which
gave them room and scope to take on, develop & apply the new
technologies of OPU/IVP & embryo sexing, and also to offer on farm
bull semen collection & processing.
merger with Caldew Veterinary Group & Paul May & Associates in
2001 meant sheep ET & AI could be added to the list of advanced
breeding services offered by the Group, along with ram semen collection
April 2001 the separate groups were cemented with a merger to form the
Paragon Veterinary Group
then Townhead Farm has been extensively redeveloped into a fully equipped
small animal centre. It now has a
purpose built facility to cater for horses and farm animals plus large
animal operating theatres, examination areas, hospitalisation facilities
and accommodation. The facilities
at Newbiggin are also used for advanced breeding technologies.
October 2002, we incorporated the original partnership, to become a
limited company. Officially we are
now Paragonvet Ltd., trading as "Paragon Veterinary Group".
Paragon story doesn't stop there.
In 2006 we opened a Veterinary Surgery on London Road in
Carlisle. This branch also offered
clipping and grooming services for pets with a trained groomer working
four days a week.
2005, we were instrumental in setting up XLVets, of which David was the
first Chairman, and then Managing Director
2005 and 2007, we assisted Karl Collins and his team in establishing Old
Stone Vets in Alston, and this practice is now running independently.
2007, we formed a joint venture in Aspatria, with Tom Henderson – this
traded as Beacon Veterinary Group, and was a “stand-alone” mixed
veterinary practice with three vets and three members of support staff
2009, work commenced on a purpose built ophthalmology operating suite at
Newbiggin which by summer 2010 was fully operational
2010, Beacon moved into a purpose converted facility on the outskirts of
2010, work commenced on an extension to Carlisle House, to provide
additional consulting rooms, an improved reception and waiting area, a new
meeting room and new offices – phase one of this was completed by summer
2012, Paragon purchased the Ovaflo Embryo Transfer Company, based in
Aberdeen, which further increased our geographical coverage into the North
2012, as part of the business exploitation plan of a Technology Strategy
Board (TSB) funded project, a new company was established called
Activf-ET, of which Paragon is a shareholder
November 2012, the ophthalmology team left Paragon and set up as an
independent business, trading as Veterinary Vision.
early 2013, the Advanced Breeding Unit had moved from Hexham to Newbiggin,
where specialist facilities (including an IVP laboratory and specialist
Ovum PickUP (OPU) room) were developed to support the sector as well as
the Activf-ET activities
a second Innovate UK (the new name for the TSB) project was funded, again
in the field of OPU/IVP and this time looking at the genomic evaluation of
2014 we undertook a Growth Accelerator Programme, which involved a
Business Mentor, Tony March, working with us to completely review and
restructure the business. The
reason for this was to allow individuals to work to their strengths, to
allow a choice of work-life balance, to create a platform to bring talent
through the company, and to build a succession strategy.
completion of the Growth Accelerator Project, Tony March was invited to
join the Board as non-executive Chairman.
XLVets AGM in June 2017 and after 11 years on the Board, David decided not
to restand for election and therefore retired from the Board of XLVets
2017 Beacon was sold to CVS and the London Road surgery closed
building of phase two of the Carlisle House development commenced in the
autumn of 2017 and through 2018 – this is a state-of-the-art small animal
hospital, with surgical, medical, imaging and kennelling as well as
additional large animal treatment space
there was a refinement of the management structure creating a smaller and
more decisive Management Board and developing “lead” roles throughout the
2018, Paragon joined forces with other independent practices in the UK,
Ireland, New Zealand and elsewhere as founder members of VetSalus, a
company with a vision to be global leaders in production animal veterinary
services, including consultancy, training, research and development,
innovation and procurement. It intends to engage much more closely with
animal health and welfare strategy globally, and integrate into the food
chain, with a strapline of “Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals
In early 2019 the new small animal hospital became fully functional and it has created a fantastic animal care and working environment incorporating the latest designs, including a large open preparation area, two theatres, scrub areas, diagnostic suites, a dental procedures area and a laboratory.
As part of the new development we also now have a refurbished small procedures area for smaller farm animals to be treated.
Also in 2019 we opened a brand new facility based at Oak Tree Animals' Charity at Wetheral, where we undertake small animal consultations every day
Tony March retired as Chairman and was replaced by Michael Pratt - during challenging times in the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic.
In 2020, Crake Corner, the annexe to Carlisle House was converted into 4 student flats to enable us to better provide teaching for veterinary students, particularly for Surrey University as we became part of the teaching partnership of the Vet School.
Throughout 2020, Paragon started working more closely with Ben Dustan of Tarn Farm Vets, based at Shap. This relationship continued to develop with the businesses becoming further aligned throughout 2021 and into 2022 with the vision to culminate in a full merger in forthcoming months.