Peter was raised as a pig and poultry farmer’s son in Yorkshire, gaining a place at the Royal Veterinary College, London with original intentions of becoming a pig vet. It wasn’t long however before he developed a keen interest in ophthalmology, a discipline which was in its infancy when Peter qualified in 1967.
Upon qualification Professor Bedford joined the College staff as a House Surgeon before obtaining a Wellcome Foundation Fellowship to study glaucoma. After achieving a PhD, Peter was appointed Lecturer on Head and Neck Surgery and went on to develop ophthalmology at the College to eventually concentrate solely on the eye.
Professor Bedford began his work with breed clubs around this time, when the joint British Veterinary Association, Kennel Club, International Sheepdog Society eye examination scheme was in its infancy; initially with the Border Collie Club, followed by the British Briard Club - to help to institute ocular disease control schemes.
During a period of sabbatical leave, Peter was given the opportunity to work with last year’s winner of the International Canine Health Awards International Prize, Dr. Gustavo Aguirre, at the University of Pennsylvania for 6 months. It was here he developed a specific interest in hereditary retinal disease to join his work in glaucoma.
Upon his return to England, Professor Bedford obtained Leverhulme funding to establish the first 3-year Residency programme in the UK in ophthamology. As a testament to this work, Peter’s first Resident is now Professor of Ophthalmology at the Vet College in Michigan, with most others going on to work in the field of hereditary eye disease.
Professor Bedford was President of the BSAVA in 1982-1983. During this year he founded the European Society of Veterinary Ophthalmology, from which has grown the European College, now with 84 Diplomates. He later became WSAVA President from 1994-1996.
Speaking of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the International Canine Health Awards, Peter said “This award means a great deal to me. The work that I have done in hereditary ocular disease has only been possible through close collaboration with dog breeders and this award recognises this collaboration. Fortunately awareness of these diseases is so much better today however I hope that the existence of this award will go on telling people that we should all aim to produce healthy pedigree dogs and that the Kennel Club is right behind all such efforts”.