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RCVS announces the recipients of its 2021 Honours & Awards

By 19/04/2021No Comments

A veterinary surgeon who helped develop a ground-breaking anaesthetic drug, a veterinary nurse who has gone above-and- beyond to support her team and clients throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and a vet student who has volunteered to help medical staff on Covid wards are amongst those who are being recognised in this year’s RCVS Honours & Awards.

All nominations were approved by the Nominations Committee, comprising members of the RCVS Officer Team including the President, Vice-Presidents and Treasurer and Chair of VN Council. Most of the nominations were ratified by RCVS Council at its March meeting, with the exception of the VN Golden Jubilee Award, which was ratified at the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council meeting in February.

Dr Mandisa Greene MRCVS, RCVS President, said: “I am so impressed by the breadth and depth of the awards nominations that we received this year which demonstrate the very best that the veterinary professions have to offer.

“From veterinary students to veterinary surgeons and nurses who have been practising for decades, all our award winners demonstrate that veterinary professionals and veterinary science has a profound and positive impact not only on animal health and welfare but also wider society. I am immensely happy and proud for them all and look forward to formally being able to present them with their awards later this year.”

A formal awards ceremony, hosted by Mandisa, will take place on Thursday, 23 September 2021. Further details on the event and how to attend will be published later this year.

The full list of awards and winners can be found below.

Queen’s Medal

The Queen’s Medal is the highest honour that the RCVS can bestow upon an individual veterinary surgeon in recognition of someone who has achieved a highly distinguished career with sustained and outstanding achievements throughout.

This year’s Queen’s Medal recipient is Dr John (Iain) Glen MRCVS who was part of a team at AstraZeneca responsible for the discovery and development of the anaesthetic drug propofol, which is one of the world’s most common anaesthetics for medical and veterinary use.

Dr Glen received two separate nominations this year, from Professor Ronald Jones FRCVS and Professor John Boyd MRCVS, both of whom praised his role in propofol and his dedication to One Health as a veterinary surgeon who had brought his knowledge and expertise to the pharmaceuticals industry.

In his nomination for Dr Glen, Professor John Boyd, who is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Veterinary Anatomy at the University of Glasgow, said: “Iain’s dogged belief in the utility of propofol led to the emergence of a highly versatile drug that can be used in the operating theatre, in intensive care, with outpatients and in ambulatory situations, as such it has become the agent of choice across the world.”

Professor Jones, a former President of the RCVS and Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Anaesthesia at the University of Liverpool, said in his nomination: “Dr Iain Glen is an unpretentious man with a quiet but impish sense of humour. He has the unique ability to involve clinicians from around the world in constructive pharmacological research that has led to a major contribution to anaesthetic practice.”

VN Golden Jubilee Award

The RCVS Veterinary Nursing (VN) Golden Jubilee Award was introduced in 2011 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first veterinary nursing training course. The Award is aimed at veterinary nurses who have had a sustained and distinguished career, who can demonstrate a leadership role within the profession and who can act as an ambassador for the value of veterinary nurses and their work.

The recipient of this year’s award is Kirsty Cavill RVN, a trained animal physiotherapist who has used her skills and knowledge to help older dogs with canine arthritis and train and advise others on therapeutic techniques.

Her nominator Lynsey Tindall RVN, who is a Deputy Head Nurse at New Priory Vets in Brighton and is a fellow volunteer at Canine Arthritis Management (CAM), said: “Kirsty is passionate about her role as a RVN and is an educational leader in her field who strongly feels that volunteering is a great way to give back to her profession, patients and colleagues. Kirsty has been a volunteer veterinary nurse advisor with CAM for the past three years and believes that the organisation plays an essential role in raising the profile of canine arthritis and provides a vital educational and advice service for owners and veterinary professionals around the world. Kirsty is a proactive contributor to the CAM team, regularly sourcing and publishing blogs for the CAM website and has delivered lectures on behalf of CAM as well as writing and submitting articles for the veterinary profession.”

Honorary Associateship

Honorary Associateship of the College is a prestigious honour conferred on a small number of lay people each year, in recognition of their special contribution to the veterinary sphere. This year there were two recipients of the Honorary Associateship: Professor Stuart Carter and Anthony Martin.

Professor Carter is Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Liverpool’s Institution of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences, and has worked at Liverpool’s Faculty of Veterinary Science since 1985.

His nominator is Amy Gillespie MRCVS, a PhD student at Liverpool and European-recognised Specialist in Bovine Health Management, who said: “Stuart has advanced veterinary medicine greatly with achievements in wide and varied fields. From the first isolation and characterisations of dromedary camel immunoglobulins to deciphering the cause of fatal foal immunodeficiency (Fell and Dale Pony Syndrome). His work into the latter led to the identification of both causal immunological defects and the responsible gene mutation, enabling development of a carrier test which has led to the virtual eradication of this disease.”

Anthony Martin is a philanthropist with a particular interest in supporting national and international charities working with the veterinary profession to improve animal welfare through his Anthony V Martin Foundation.

His nominator is Toni Cobbett RVN, Head Nurse at St Clement Veterinary Clinic in Cornwall, who has worked with charities that have benefitted from Anthony Martin’s funding. In her nomination she said: “When committing support Tony doesn’t just send funds. He takes a personal interest in every charity he partners and always visits them, in the UK or abroad. 

“Tony Martin’s intelligent and innovative approach to supporting the work of the veterinarian profession in so many different corners of the world is inspirational.”

Impact Award

The Impact Award was launched in 2017 and is bestowed upon a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse who has recently, or is currently, undertaking a project, initiative or similar that has a significant impact on the profession at large, animal health or welfare, or public health.

There are two recipients of the Impact Award this year: veterinary surgeons Alison Lambert MRCVS and Dr Gwenllian Rees MRCVS.

Alison is the founder and owner of veterinary business consultancy Onswitch which looks to help veterinary businesses create customer-centred practice so that pets, horses and livestock receive the best care.

Her nominator is Susie Samuel MRCVS, the founder of VetHelpDirect, a platform that helps connect animal owners with local vets. In her nomination Susie said: “Alison has inspired the veterinary profession in the UK and around the world to improve the customer experience (Cx) of the client. Countless vets and RVNs from across the world have been given the tools to communicate effectively with owners, with evidence-based methods.”

Dr Gwenllian Rees has been nominated for her involvement in the Arwain Vet Cymru (AVC) project, a collaborative national antimicrobial stewardship program for all farm vets in Wales.

Her nominator is Robert Edward Smith MRCVS, a farm animal veterinary surgeon working in Abergavenny in South East Wales. In his nomination, he said: “Gwen has trained a network of Veterinary Prescribing Champions (VPCs) across Wales who will promote responsible medicine use and introduce antimicrobial stewardship policies into their practices, translating into real, practical, on-farm change.”

Inspiration Award

The Inspiration Award was also launched in 2017 and is bestowed upon a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse at any stage in of their career who has demonstrated the ability to inspire and enthuse others consistently throughout.

The two recipients of this year’s Inspiration Awards are Dr Daniella Dos Santos MRCVS and Professor Mandy Peffers MRCVS.

Daniella Dos Santos is currently the Senior Vice-President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and has been nominated for the leadership role she took during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her nominator is Cat Henstridge MRCVS, a veterinary surgeon who works in first opinion small animal practice. In her nomination form she said: “Daniella was a true inspiration to the profession this year during the pandemic as the president of the BVA.  She led from the front with a calm, considered and sympathetic attitude and clearly set out a path for the rest of us to follow.  She ensured that the BVA co-ordinated with the other professional bodies with their advice ensuring protocols were established for all veterinary fields with the input of the experts in those spheres.  She was also instrumental in representing the profession, its needs and concerns to the government during this time.”

Professor Peffers is a Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow in Musculoskeletal & Ageing Science at the Institute of Life Course and Medical Sciences at the University of Liverpool.

Her nominator is Eithne Comerford FRCVS, Professor of Small Animal Surgery at Liverpool, who nominated her colleague for taking a ‘quantum career leap’ of being a practising veterinary surgeon balancing work and family commitments to entering academia as a Wellcome Trust researcher. In her nomination, Professor Comerford said: “In my opinion, this non-traditional career path and trajectory is truly inspirational as after having a family and established job, Mandy made a decision to try something completely different in her career which has resulted in her being a stellar academic success influencing and impacting so many people in our and allied professions.”

International Award

The RCVS International Award, first bestowed in 2017, recognises veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses or laypeople who have worked internationally, from either within or outside the UK.

The recipient of this year’s International Award is Emeritus Professor Michael Day who sadly passed away in May 2020 and has been nominated posthumously by Dr Frances Barr FRCVS, a veterinary surgeon who worked with him as a colleague at the University of Bristol and when Professor Day was Chair of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Education Committee.

She said: “Michael Day was a prolific researcher and writer, focusing on companion animal immune-mediated and infectious diseases. His contributions to the field were acknowledged by many awards, including the BSAVA Amoroso Award (1999), the RCVS Trust’s G Norman Hall medal (2003) and the Pet Plan Charitable Trust Scientific Award (2009).

“Michael’s involvement with the international veterinary sector strengthened when he began a long and fruitful association with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association in 2003. He was Chair of the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines group from 2009 – 2020. In 2010 he became the founding chair of WSAVA’s One Health committee. He was also vice-president of the WSAVA Foundation, helping to develop and lead the scientific aspects of the pioneering AFSCAN project to raise standards of companion animal veterinary care in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Compassion Award

This is a new RCVS award founded to reflect the focus of the RCVS on compassion, as part of its 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, and recognises a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse at any stage of their career who has demonstrated compassion towards fellow professionals and/or members of the animal-owning public.

The inaugural recipients of the Compassion Award are Dr David Martin MRCVS and Olivia Wassell RVN.

Dr Martin is a veterinary surgeon and partner at the Brownlow Veterinary Group in Shropshire who has been described as a consistent advocate for pet, client and team welfare within the non-accidental injury (NAI) field for many years, helping practitioners to identify the signs of NAI.

He has been nominated by Dr Jacqueline Seymour MRCVS, a VetsNow district veterinary surgeon who sits with Dr Martin on the IVC UK Welfare group, where she has worked alongside him to promote awareness of NAI and other relevant welfare initiatives.

In her nomination she said: “In 2020, a large rise in domestic abuse was reported. Our teams also faced increased numbers of potential non-accidental injury cases. There is a recognised link between animal abuse and domestic abuse, meaning veterinary awareness can benefit other victims within the household, including children.

“David contributed his knowledge and personal time during a pandemic that markedly increased his normal practice responsibilities. He provided direct support to teams in his own time, as well as leading parliamentary discussion, online webinar training and production of additional resources to aid teams in these situations.”

Olivia Wassell RVN has worked at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Hammersmith, London, since late 2019 and has been praised by her colleagues for her professionalism, positive attitude and dedication to animal health and welfare as a relatively new member of staff working under difficult conditions during the pandemic.

She has been nominated by Dominique Mitchell RVN, Nurse Manager at the hospital, who said: “Our Hammersmith hospital had to close down during the Covid-19 pandemic which uprooted our team to our flagship hospital branch in Victoria. Not only has Olivia faced this challenge with a completely open mind and flexibility, she has been a great support to numerous team members over there, familiar and unfamiliar. She threw herself into her work at Victoria and continued to strive to give the best care possible. She was consistently offering up help during weekend work, night shifts and long 12-hour shifts at the hospital.”

Student Community Award

The final award, which is also new for this year, is the RCVS Student Community Award and recognises a veterinary or veterinary nursing student who has made a real effort to support their fellow students and the wider veterinary/veterinary nursing school community, including the local community where their institution is based.

The two inaugural recipients of this award are Jack Church and Lavinia Economu.

Jack Church is a fourth-year veterinary student at Surrey Vet School who, in addition to his studies, had spent much of last year volunteering at an adult ICU Covid-19 award, completing 12-hour shifts undertaking tasks such as helping the doctors and nurses put on their personal protective equipment (PPE), rolling ventilated patients, disinfecting PPE and transporting supplies.

His nominator, fellow Surrey University veterinary student Yasmin Abou-Amer, said: “Jack has been a fantastic role model to other vet students. His service to the wider community, including the most vulnerable, show that is on his way to becoming someone who will be able to face the challenges of working in the veterinary field.  Jack has been the perfect example of why it is so important to have more than academic ability; he has shown an ability to work with people at their lowest, in crisis situations and exhibited resilience, determination and humility.”

Lavinia Economu is a final-year student at the Royal Veterinary College and is one of the driving forces behind Animal Aspirations, a student-led organisation that seeks to inspire young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and different socio-economic backgrounds into the veterinary professions.

Her nominator is BVA Senior Vice-President Dr Daniella Dos Santos MRCVS, who said: “Recognising not only the lack of diversity within the profession, but also the challenge of a lack of role models and accessible support for marginalised and disadvantaged communities, Lavinia founded Animal Aspirations, which in two years has gone from strength to strength. They have developed a website and have a strong, engaging social media presence, and provide interactive and inspiring workshops for children within the community. Animal Aspirations’ work, through Lavinia’s leadership has been nationally and internationally recognised.”

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