Chamber honors Southampton Veterinary Clinic

Published 9:07 am Monday, April 3, 2023

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A large crowd of business community members and officials gathered at The Hubs Vine in Franklin on Thursday, March 23, for the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce’s 69th annual meeting, where the chamber honored the Southampton Veterinary Clinic PC as its 2022 Business of the Year.

After those attending the meeting enjoyed dinner and a time of fellowship, Chamber President Holly Ledbetter and President-Elect Marshall Rabil hosted the structured part of the meeting.

“The theme for tonight is planting potential and harvesting dreams,” Rabil said.

Hampton Farms sponsored the event, and Hampton Farms Vice President of Operations R.P. Watson delivered remarks, sharing details about the company.

Later, Blake Ford Co-Owner Blake Blythe came forward and shared insights into the Southampton Veterinary Clinic before presenting the Business of the Year award to the clinic’s leader, Dr. Wanda Bradshaw.

“Dr. Wanda Bradshaw has passionately cared for our pets at Southampton Veterinary Clinic for almost 33 years,” he said. “She started her practice in August of 1990 with only three employees. Her exceptional team is loyal, some working (there) over 30 years. The current staff is 15 employees, which includes a licensed vet tech and another employee that is studying to get her license.

“Through her mentorship, Dr. Bradshaw has inspired several of her prior employees to continue their education and realize their own dream of becoming a veterinarian,” he added.

He noted that Bradshaw’s daughter, Jaime Bradshaw, is in her last semester at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.

“In addition to her practice, Dr. Wanda also serves as a licensed veterinarian for the Southampton County Animal Control, and she is a professor of vet technology for Blue Ridge Community College,” Blythe said. “In 2004, Southampton Veterinary Clinic expanded their operation by constructing a boarding facility for her animals. The clinic also has a full pharmacy, is equipped with complete diagnostic services and digital radiographs.”

Bradshaw and her staff see an average of 75 patients per day and also perform five to six surgeries each day, Monday through Friday.

“Dr. Bradshaw shows up early and stays late,” Blythe said. “We know that, don’t we?”

He also noted that the clinic’s patients are not all local.

“Some come from as far as the Hampton Roads region, North Carolina and even Emporia,” he said. “The quality care and friendly customer service keeps the customers coming back.”

This ultimately helps boost the local economy in a variety of ways.

“Her staff often gives directions to local restaurants, coffee shops, the library, shopping centers and parks while people wait for their pet’s care or surgery,” Blythe said. “These out-of-town guests generate a positive impact for our local businesses and economy.”

He explained that Bradshaw and her team have donated services to care for horses at local riding centers, participated in career days at local schools and helped the Boy and Girl Scouts earn their merit badges.

The clinic also consistently supports many local clubs and organizations, making it a true community partner.

“We truly are fortunate to have an excellent and compassionate, caring person take care of our pets,” Blythe said. “It is my great honor to present tonight’s award to Dr. Wanda Bradshaw and Southampton Veterinary Clinic for the 2022 Business of the Year award. Congratulations!”

Blythe, who won the chamber’s first Business of the Year award in 1991, then handed the 2022 honor to Bradshaw.

“I am so honored to receive this award tonight,” Bradshaw said. “I’m delighted to see how many people came out and supported me. Thank you all so much.

“Of course, I could not have done this without lots of people — first, my family, my husband, my two daughters; lots of friends; lots of clients; and, most importantly, my amazing, dedicated employees.”

She introduced each employee to those in attendance.

“This staff works tirelessly to help our clinic succeed and to make our vision a reality, and that vision is keeping all the animals in our community healthy,” she said. “We take pride in our performance and how we care for our clients, and it definitely shows.”

She noted that the Southampton Veterinary Clinic has been an icon in the community for more than 65 years, as the late Dr. Elwyn L. Irving owned the clinic for 30 years prior to Bradshaw taking the reins of the organization.

She recalled that in her childhood, she looked up to Irving, who would visit the farm where her dad worked.

Between her admiration for Irving’s veterinary abilities and the inspiration she gleaned from her father’s work ethic and the way he took care of his own animals, she decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

She eventually took over the clinic and has overseen multiple expansions of it during her time as its leader.

She referenced the theme of the night — planting potential and harvesting dreams.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better theme tonight, because it does fit me,” she said. “So Dr. Irving cultivated the ground and made the start. When I came in, I planted my seed. I planted my seed to be the best veterinarian in the world, and from that, I decided to just keep growing. And so I grew and I grew, and now I’m about to harvest my dream — in 2024, brand new clinic!”

This prompted enthusiastic applause.

“So, more room to hire more veterinarians, more room to hire more employees, more parking spots, the ability to add more specialties — dentistry, ultrasounds,” she said, adding that the new clinic will also have drive-thru services, along with some other features she is still in the process of creating.

“We’re just going to continue to grow, and thank you for this honor,” she said.

Moments after she finished her acceptance speech, she and the clinic’s staff were treated to a special video message from her daughter, Jaime Bradshaw.

“I’m so excited for you guys,” Jaime said. “Mom, I just wanted to say I love you, and I’ve always been inspired by your dedication, your love for animals and your love for your community. You’re just a well-rounded, amazing person, and I just love you so much. Congratulations to you and your wonderful team! I hope you guys have fun tonight, I miss you guys, and I’ll see you soon.”