A Hampshire vet has quit the UK to start building a new life in the Central American holiday destination of Costa Rica. 

Oncology clinician Laura Holm spent the last 16 years working at award-winning Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Winchester. 

However, now she and husband Shawn, a vet who was based at fellow Linnaeus practice, Barn Animal Hospital in Basingstoke, have decided on a dramatic transatlantic switch to more tropical climes. 

Laura admits it has been a bittersweet move with the excitement of building a new home on the stunning Osa peninsula balanced by leaving behind close family, friends and colleagues. 

She confessed: “I was extremely anxious but the more we thought about it, the more excited we became about the opportunities life might present in Costa Rica – particularly to be involved in more wildlife conservation, which is a passion. 

“So, we made the tough decision to leave our long-term jobs, where we had both spent one third of our lives and had so many happy memories. I started at Anderson Moores as a locum in 2007 and went on to become an advanced practitioner in small animal internal medicine. While I had focused on oncology for the last 13 years.” 

Laura said there were many highlights but in addition to the many wonderful oncology patients she had the privilege to help, working alongside managing director David Walker on Anderson Moores’ pioneering work on CRGV, also known as Alabama Rot, was a highlight of her career. 

She added: “It was 2012 when CRGV cases began to appear in the UK and it took only a small handful of cases for us to start to understand this was a novel and very alarming canine disease emerging in the country. 

“We had to act quickly trying to report our suspicions to the relevant organisations and getting protocols implemented to deal with the situation. 

“This included setting up a database and trying to raise awareness, both within the profession and externally. 

“David was very quickly in the centre of a media frenzy and, for both of us, keeping up with the enquiries from both within and outside the profession was hugely demanding. 

“It was certainly like nothing I have ever experienced before or since. 

“I feel proud to know I have contributed a huge amount to the work still being done now to gain a better understanding of this terrible illness. 

“Achievements I am especially proud of include setting up the first CRGV conference in 2017, setting up research projects investigating the possible role of genetics and complement - an arm of the immune system that ordinarily helps fight infection; being one of the early contributors to the formation of the government led Small Animal Expert Group (SAEG) for small animal disease surveillance; and providing one of the research subjects for the PhD taking place at Surrey University. 

“I know that my dedication and enthusiasm for finding answers were important for maintaining the momentum of the CRGV research and I will always treasure the memories of the time spent working on CRGV. 

“I met and worked with so many incredible people from both the human and veterinary medical fields, from the UK, Europe and Japan, and I know I am truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work so closely with such a talented, generous and diverse team of people.” 

Laura’s incredible dedication to duty over the years ultimately led to her and Shawn reassessing their lives and careers. 

She admits: “Chronic fatigue was definitely getting the better of us and we both realised there was no way we could continue as we were until official retiring age. 

“In 2021, we both celebrated our 50th birthdays, and also 20 years of having been veterinary surgeons and we started to consider our futures and our possibilities with respect to retirement, and life after retirement.” 

It was Laura’s father Phillip Rossiter, who lives in Costa Rica who offered the couple a life-changing alternative when he sent them details of a plot of land for sale on the spectacular Costa Rican coastline. 

They sold their Hampshire house, bought the land and are now busy building a new home and a new life together 5,500 miles away. 

Laura concluded: “It’s certainly been a long, tough, emotional and tiring journey, but we’re here now living temporarily in a one-bedroom bedsit while we project manage the building of our new home. 

“It is a very steep learning curve – neither of us spoke Spanish before moving, but we are learning, and Costa Rica is quite a tough country to live in, even though it’s paradise!” 

Laura and Shawn have even found the time to document their new life with a series of videos on their YouTube channel, which is called ‘Project Pura Vida’

Laura said: “So, has it been worth it? Well – every morning, when I am sitting quietly on our little patio, eating a relaxed breakfast with Shawn, enjoying blue skies, stunning ocean views and temperatures in the upper 20Cs I would say 100 per cent, ‘yes’. 

“Do I know if we can make it all work? No! But we’re giving it our best shot. Maybe ask me again in a year!” 

Anderson Moores offers specialist care in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, emergency and critical care, feline hyperthyroid clinic, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, orthopaedics and soft tissue surgery. 

For more information, visit www.andersonmoores.com or search for Anderson Mores Veterinary Specialists on social media. 

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