Stepney City Farm’s own Dr Dolittle heads for Cambridge

A young volunteer from Stepney City Farm has earned his stripes by securing himself an offer to study veterinary science at Cambridge.

Josh Strycharczyk, 18, began volunteering at Stepney when he was 11. “I’ve always wanted to be a vet,” he says, “so it’s great to get an offer. Veterinary science as a whole is pretty competitive, and Cambridge is really tough.”

It wasn’t the glamour that attracted Josh to vet science – he realised it was his calling while on night duty on a Welsh lamb farm. “I was trudging through the darkness, turning on all the lights in the lambing shed, and thinking: it’s freezing cold and it’s 4am, but I quite enjoy this.”

His parents encouraged his interest in animals, but Josh says he never had pets as a child.

“We used to live in a rather small flat, which is one of the things that drove me to go out and look at animals.

“My mum and dad were obviously very forward thinking and thought it would be a good idea for me to start going to the farm regularly.”

Like Josh, Stepney City Farm is looking forward to a bright future – it is currently being expanded thanks to �400,000 from Crossrail, who are taking up some of its land.

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Fellow volunteer Anne Furby, 24, believes Josh has what it takes to do well at Cambridge. “He’s a very intelligent, outgoing young chap,” she says. “He’s really looking forward to it.”

Josh, a pupil at Bancroft’s School in Woodford Green, says he recommends the farm to any other future vets. “It’s great. You get fit and you meet lots of different people.

“When I got here it was a bit different. As a new starter, you get given the jobs that are hard to mess up like feeding and watering the animals.

“Now I’ve been asked to join the board. It’s all a bit scary and grown-up.”

But even as a grown-up, Josh intends to stay involved during the holidays. “They’re setting up a city farm in Cambridge,” he adds, “so I know what I’m going to be doing with my weekends.”