He may have his own tv show and be known the world over for his pioneering veterinary techniques, but I thought Noel Fitzpatrick had bitten off more than he could chew when he had booked St David’s Hall for the Welsh leg of UK & Ireland tour.
The larger-than-life Surrey-based Irishman has garnered a reputation for saving animals that have been written off by other veterinary practices and has won the heart of many animal lovers for doing so. Nevertheless, St David’s Hall is a large venue for a speaking event and I feared there would be more empty seats than occupied ones.
How wrong was I? While not at its absolute capacity, the venue was packed out in all but the upper reaches and was testament to the star quality of Fitzpatrick.
Over the course of the next two hours, the audience were treated to a show that mixed spirituality, amusing anecdotes and some of the great successes of Fitzpatrick’s illustrious career.
It also felt like something of a confession session for Fitzpatrick who admitted to letting his ego get the better of him and being fallible. Despite garnering a reputation as a world leader in his field, Fitzpatrick was not afraid to lay bare his soul over the course of the show and reveal some of the vulnerabilities and dark secrets that have plagued him for much of his adult life.
It was clear early on that the venue was full of animal lovers who Fitzpatrick held in the palm of his hands for every second of every minute of the show. Each picture projected onto the screen of a cat or dog was greeted with a round of applause and when Fitzpatrick spoke about the death of the “love of his life” – his 14-year-old border terrier Keira – many of the spectators were visibly moved.
Fitzpatrick also spoke at length about the hostility he has received from within his own profession at the methods he deploys and the lengths he will go to to save an animal’s life. Complaints have been lodged against him and Fitzpatrick has been forced to defend his techniques and ability to retain his licence. You can imagine which side of the debate the audience members sided with.
There were a few cringey moments; namely a long anecdote about meeting the Queen and another involving Fitzpatrick dancing on stage to music and removing his shirt in a strip tease manner – although some in the crowd clearly appreciated this surprising turn of events.
All-in-all, this was a well curated, well-thought out, auto-biographical show that blended passion, music, love, and pioneering science in abundance. Fans of Fitzpatrick will not be left disappointed at the remaining dates on the tour.
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