Chris Shales

Head of Soft Tissue Surgery

RCVS and European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery

Chris graduated from Cambridge Veterinary School in 2000 having gained a degree in Zoology in addition to qualifying as a Veterinary Surgeon. Chris then spent two hugely enjoyable years working in general practice in Suffolk before returning to Cambridge as a Resident in Small Animal Surgery.

Following completion of his residency in 2005, Chris worked as a Clinical Surgeon in the Soft Tissue Department of Cambridge University before moving to take up a post as Clinical Fellow in the Small Animal Surgery Department at Bristol University. He has been at Willows since 2009 and as such has been at the core of the team’s commitment to the pursuit of clinical excellence via a multi-disciplinary approach to soft tissue surgery.

Chris is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons and an RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery. Chris is a member of the written examination sub-committee for the European College and the scientific programme committee for the BSAVA Congress. Chris was an examiner for the RCVS Certificate in Small Animal Surgery for four years and has been a committee member of the Association of Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgeons.

Chris has published numerous scientific peer reviewed papers, written several textbook chapters and is an experienced lecturer to Vets at both local, national and international level.

Chris is particularly interested in upper airway surgery, brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), portosystemic shunts, and surgical oncology he is also a member of the interventional radiography group at Willows.

Chris is a keen rugby fan and mountain biker but recent restrictions on his free time due to his young children have led him to dust off his running shoes! Chris and his family share their house with Hattie, a fantastic Labrador who was successfully treated at Willows for a liver shunt!
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Dr Stephen Baines

MA VetMB PhD CertVR CertSAS DipECVS DipClinOnc MRCVS

Head of Oncology

RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery
European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery
RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Oncology

Stephen qualified from Cambridge University. He held an internship position at North Carolina State University and then spent a year in general practice before taking up a Residency in Small Animal Surgery at the University of Liverpool, where he gained the RCVS Certificates in Veterinary Radiology and Small Animal Surgery. This was followed by a PhD in Canine Tumour Biology at the University of Cambridge followed by a period as Lecturer in Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery. Stephen then moved to the Royal Veterinary College, as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Surgery and Head of Surgery. He also completed a Master of Science degree in Comparative Clinical Oncology at the University of Birmingham.

Stephen is currently Head of Soft Tissue Surgery at Willows. He is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons and is an RCVS Specialist in both Small Animal Surgery and Veterinary Oncology. He is the only active Specialist Surgeon in the country to hold Specialist Status in these two disciplines.

Stephen is a committee member of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons, the Veterinary Society for Surgical Oncology, and the Association of Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgeons, and has also been Chairman of Examiners for the RCVS Certificate in Small Animal Surgery and a member of the BSAVA Scientific Committee. Stephen is also a member of the editorial board of The Veterinary Record and is Editor in Chief of In Practice.

Stephen has published over 70 papers in the peer-reviewed literature and has given over 150 presentations at regional, national and international meetings. He has written over 30 continuing education articles and a dozen book chapters. He is the editor of the BSAVA Manual of Surgical Principles. Stephen is a regular lecturer at national and international meetings. He has received clinical research prizes from the European College of Veterinary Surgeons, British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the Royal Veterinary College.

Stephen's clinical interests include all aspects of clinical oncology, wound management and reconstructive surgery, and minimally invasive surgery, particularly thoracoscopy. His clinical research interests involve tumour cell biology, biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and therapy and novel therapeutic agents for treating cancer in small animals, and this research has been supported by BSAVA Petsavers, the PetPlan Charitable Trust and RCVS Trust.

Stephen and family own three Domestic shorthair cats, Apollo, Artemis and Athene. When not at work, Stephen is a keen triathlete, and has participated in events from sprint distance to full ironman distance. He is usually leader of the pack in the swim, but needs to work on the run. He won his age group (Super Veteran) at the last Sprint distance and Olympic distance triathlon, so Willows may now boast that it has its own Super Vet! He has also represented Team GB at the International Triathlon Union World Championships in Aquathlon and Long Distance Triathlon.
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Lara Dempsey

European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery

Having graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2000, Lara spent several years in mixed practice before embarking on a career in small animal surgery. During her time in small animal practice she achieved the general practitioner certificates in small animal surgery and small animal medicine.  She joined the University of Liverpool in 2013 to undertake a rotating internship followed by a residency in small animal surgery and in 2014 completed the CertAVP in general small animal surgery. Lara successfully passed the European diploma exam to become a European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery in 2019.

Lara is actively involved in reviewing soft tissue surgery articles in scientific journals and is a member of the ECVS multiple choice question sub-committee for the ECVS examination. She has published several papers in scientific peer reviewed journals and delivered lectures and webinars locally and at an international level.

Lara enjoys all aspects of soft tissue surgery and enjoys working in an experienced and dedicated multidisciplinary team at Willows to provide the highest standard of care for her patients.

Lara enjoys participating in high intensity fitness classes at the gym. She also enjoys walking including mountain hiking with her husband and two dogs and travelling in her spare time.
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Will Robinson

BVetMed MSc BSAVA PGCertSAS DipECVS MRCVS

European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery

Will graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2010 and since then has worked in multiple small animal hospitals across the UK. He undertook a rotating internship at the Willows in 2012 before going to Bristol Veterinary School to complete his three year residency in small animal surgery and a clinical masters degree (MSc). During this time he also completed his BSAVA post graduate certificate in surgery. Will successfully passed the European diploma exam to become a European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery in 2020. Will’s research interests include minimally invasive surgical techniques and he is interested in all aspects of surgery and particularly enjoys fracture management and thoracic emergency surgery.

In his spare time Will enjoys exploring the countryside with his family and two crazy Cocker Spaniels, Olive and Rocket.
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Tim Easter

BVMedSci BVM BVS MRCVS

ECVS Resident in Small Animal Surgery

Tim qualified from Nottingham University in 2013. He then went to work in Sussex in an exclusively small animal practice before completing an Internship at Willows. Following this, he spent two years at a busy small animal hospital in Oxfordshire before returning to Willows to undertake a Surgical Residency.

Tim is currently working towards a European Diploma in Small Animal Surgery. With a broad interest in both orthopaedic and soft tissue surgery Tim has current research investigating tibial fracture stabilisation and the use of patient specific guides for the treatment of humeral intercondylar fissures.
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Erika Villedieu

DVM MRCVS

ECVS Resident in Small Animal Surgery

Erika graduated from the University of Toulouse in France in 2014. After moving to the UK she worked in general practice for two years and completed a small animal rotating Internship at the Royal Veterinary College and a surgical Internship at a Specialist referral hospital in Surrey, focusing on soft tissue surgery and surgical oncology.

Erika joined the Willows team as a Resident in small animal surgery in July 2018. She is currently involved in research projects on brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, soft tissue sarcomas and ante brachial deformities. Erika is currently working towards a European Diploma in Veterinary Surgery.

In her spare time she enjoys cycling, running and walking.
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Vassilis Chantziaras

ECVS Resident in Small Animal Surgery

Vassilis graduated from University of Thessaly in Greece in 2010. He then undertook a surgical internship programme in small animal surgery straight after graduation.

Since moving to the UK in 2012, he has undertaken several roles in small animal practice, including general practice, emergency and critical care and charity work. In 2016 Vassilis completed a rotating internship at Willows. He is involved in research on total hip replacement in dogs and has published a case report article on a rare urinary disorder in a dog. Vassilis has been studying towards a postgraduate certificate in small animal surgery, which gave him the opportunity to perform a variety of soft tissue and orthopaedic procedures.

Vassilis is delighted to be return to Willows where he is currently working towards a European Diploma in Small Animal Surgery.

In his spare time he enjoys spends time with his young family as a busy dad.
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