Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, who passed away at age 90, was veterinary surgeon to the Queen, an expert on parasites in pets, and the only member of his profession in the House of Lords.
A professor of animal pathology and former chairman of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Soulsby was an expert adviser to the government on animal welfare, science
and technology, biotechnology, and environmental issues and worked tirelessly for the welfare of animals both as a vet and as a campaigner.
In his career as a vet he chaired the British Veterinary Association’s ethics committee for many years and was patron of the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. In the Lords he demanded that the government should introduce compulsory licenses for pet owners and, as co-founder of Vets in Support of Change, helped lead the successful campaign to reform Britain’s 90-year-old quarantine laws (his own cats having had a traumatic experience in quarantine).
Ernest Jackson Lawson Soulsby was born on June 23, 1926, and brought up in the former county of Westmorland on the family farm at Williamsgill, Newbiggin, Temple Sowerby. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith and at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he went on to take a doctorate. After graduation he served for several years as a municipal veterinary officer in Edinburgh, and it was during this time that he became interested in animal parasites.
After a short period as a lecturer in Clinical Parasitology at the University of Bristol Veterinary School, he went on to Cambridge, where he established his reputation. After nine years he was recruited by the University of Pennsylvania to a chair in Veterinary Pathology. He travelled so much that his position became known as the Pan Am Chair of Parasitology.
He returned to Cambridge in 1978 as Professor of Animal Pathology, eventually becoming dean of the veterinary school.
A member of the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) from 1978, he was president in 1984 and president of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1998 to 2000. In 2015 he won the RCVS’s Queen’s Medal.
In the House of Lords he was president of the Pet Advisory Committee and of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee; vice-president of the All-Party Group on Animal Welfare; and chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. He also chaired subcommittees of inquiry looking into resistance to antibiotics and fighting infection.
He served as president of the Royal Institute of Public Health from 2004 until 2008, when it merged with the Royal Society of Health to become the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). He served the new body as President until the end of 2009.
Soulsby published 14 books on animal parasites as well as numerous articles in veterinary journals. His obituary previously appeared in The Telegraph.