Remembering The Life Of The ‘Ocean Vet’

November 12, 2014

[Written by John Manderson] Where do I begin? How do I find the words? How do you even begin to describe the impact that one person can have not on your own life, but on an entire country?

A man larger than life, who gave 110% all the time, his energy, focus and drive completely infectious. You could not spend any time around Neil without your sprits being lifted no matter your mood and feel the excitement and joy he shared no matter the subject.

Dr Neil Burnie Bermuda (1)

Dr. Neil Burnie was one who lived life to the max, participated fully and gave completely with the utmost passion for those around him, human and animal alike. Known for his love of animals as one of Bermuda’s most loved vets, he was also a man of the seas around Bermuda.

As a kid Neil took me under his wing and taught me how to windsurf on a short board. They basically don’t float well until you are under way and he took the time out of his session to teach me the water start, where you lay in the water, feet on the board and you allow the sail to pull you up and out of the water and away. He taught me the ‘duck gybe’ and other tricks that would have taken me forever otherwise.

Neil cared for my animals and most likely many thousands more. He made even the worst of situations seem more bearable. Our Staffordshire terrier had stomach cancer and I could not take her in the room. Just couldn’t handle it. He took care of her and then came out and saw me, spoke to me and made me laugh.

Dr Neil Burnie Bermuda (4)

More recently known locally and soon to be internationally as the “Ocean Vet” Neil and his partner Choy Aming have been hitting the ocean filming the new Ocean Vet series a 12 episode television show on the marine wildlife around Bermuda.

I must admit I had lost track of Neil for a few years and when Choy contacted me to ask if I and Bermuda Aerial Media could provide aerial video support to assist him and Neil to produce this new television show I was like “Are you serious? Absolutely!” From late March of this year through to September, I was able to spend the most amazing experience I could possibly describe to anyone.

Dr Neil Burnie Bermuda (8)

Along with the production team of Gass Productions Andy Smith and Dan Radford, his son Oscar Deuss, camera man Andrew Kirkpatrick and captain Dylan Ward any of the many days I spent on the water with Neil who was always full of excitement, knowledge, passion and unfathomable energy, I thank my lucky stars for being able to have that time with him.

Here was someone that came to the island many years ago from the UK as a vet and totally immersed himself in the community, giving far more to his adopted home than many of those born here would do and gave his life doing what he loved. Neil was a giver, not a taker. He shared everything. His time, his knowledge, his passion, his love.

Dr Neil Burnie Bermuda (9)

In the grand scheme I barely knew him at all. I cannot imagine the loss that his wife and kids must feel. It is beyond tragic that this special character, this giant of a man will no longer be with us physically, but the work that he as done, his accomplishments and his legacy will always be with us.

Katrin, Oscar & Kim and Choy, may you find strength to deal with the sad loss of a great man and may the memories carry you through. Neil, may you rest in peace and may Heaven welcome the Ocean Vet with a Red Bull and some Oreos.

- John Manderson

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Category: All, Environment

Comments (9)

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  1. Kindley says:

    Very nice tribute.

  2. A Bermudian says:

    A fantastic tribute, John. Thank you.

  3. Nikki says:

    Beautifully said.

  4. Maria says:

    What a thoughtful and loving tribute. Let’s hope his life inspires us all to be more like him.

  5. A beautiful tribute for a wonderful person loved by so many.

  6. Will Black says:

    Great words, John. A perfect tribute for Neil.

  7. Cindy Romani says:

    Took my cats to him many times over the years he was a wonderful vet so easy to super guy he will be greatly missed

  8. Sandi Harries says:

    Neil will swim on with his friends, the whales and sharks forever. R I P

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