He watched livelihoods crumble and grappled with blood shortages as Mad Cow Disease ravaged his country. Two decades on, one Dennington resident is pleased he can donate again.
English expat Tony Laws was serving as a staff officer in the Royal Navy in 2001 when he was tasked with culling disease-affected livestock.
He said the "harrowing" experience reiterated to him the importance of containment measures including a 22-year ban on those potentially exposed from giving blood in Australia.
"It was one of the most memorable times of my life," Mr Laws said.
"I was a staff officer in the HQ for the navy and as part of my job I was responsible for supplying the manpower to support the agricultural industry - basically putting all these sheep and cattle down.
"There were six million cows and sheep physically slaughtered and destroyed. I went out into the field to visit my sailors and it was probably the most harrowing thing outside conflict I ever saw.
"It was just heartbreaking taking these farmers to one side as we helped the agricultural people destroy the animals and bury them - it was absolutely shocking.
"It didn't just affect the agriculture industry, it affected tourism and all sorts of other things.
"In total, it cost the British economy over five million pounds each year. Europe basically banned British beef so we lost all our exports of beef overnight and that lasted years.
"This was a very, very serious thing."
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He said while he was disappointed he could not give blood, a reversal of the ban by the Therapeutic Goods Administration this week was pleasing.
"I have been disappointed that I haven't been able to give blood in Australia until now," Mr Laws said.
"I've been at the other end where I've seen casualties really close to death who needed blood transfusions. This is a really good step and I'm very pleased that it's come about."
He encouraged all who were able and willing to give blood.
"As someone who's been involved with search and rescue and medical transport, blood is absolutely vital," Mr Laws said.
"We need oxygen and nutrients to live and the thing that transports it is blood. It's a perishable item and it's really important to donate."
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