Records of eight decades of the Animal Health Trust’s history saved by RCVS Knowledge - Veterinary Practice
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Records of eight decades of the Animal Health Trust’s history saved by RCVS Knowledge

Materials that date back to 1942 were at risk of being destroyed when the Trust closed last year

RCVS Knowledge collaborated with former staff members of the Animal Health Trust to rescue nearly 80 years of material, which was at risk of being destroyed when the Trust closed last year.

RCVS Knowledge has secured around 160 boxes of material from the Animal Health Trust, as part of its ongoing mission to preserve and promote veterinary history. The collections were at risk of being destroyed after the esteemed veterinary research charity closed in July 2020. A team of passionate former AHT staff members worked tirelessly with RCVS Knowledge to secure the material, which was safely collected last week. The materials date back to 1942, when the Animal Health Trust was founded by former RCVS President Dr W.R. Wooldridge, and are known to contain the full set of Annual and Scientific Reports from 1947 through to 2019. The Royal Charters will also be placed in the care of RCVS Knowledge and maintained in their archives.

Dr Andrew Higgins, Director of AHT from 1988-99, commented, “It was a shock to learn of the sudden closure in 2020 of what had been a world-class research institute, and a tragedy for the staff involved. I am so grateful to RCVS Knowledge for their encouragement and enthusiasm to save this unique record for posterity, and that so many important and unique documents and photographs are now stored safely in their archives.”

Keith Meldrum, Former Chief Veterinary Officer and AHT Council member, added, “I am absolutely delighted that some of the unique and priceless memorabilia from the Trust has been saved by RCVS Knowledge so that it can be both seen and admired by generations to come.”

The Animal Health Trust’s library, containing journals, textbooks and reports, was gifted to the Harper and Keele Veterinary School by Lord Kirkham, former Deputy President of AHT. RCVS Knowledge is keen to collaborate with the university and has offered to loan any additional materials that may be of interest to them.

Lorna Cahill Bannister, Archivist at RCVS Knowledge, said, “We are excited to publicly announce RCVS Knowledge’s role in the preservation of the Animal Health Trust’s legacy. While we faced various challenges in retrieving the collections, I am extremely glad that our efforts paid off, and I would like to thank everyone who helped us achieve this, in particular Andrew Higgins, Keith Meldrum and Maire O’Brien for their dedication and support throughout this time. I look forward to delving into the collections and utilising this excellent resource of history from one of the UK’s leading veterinary research charities for almost 80 years.”

The collection will join the rest of RCVS Knowledge’s archives, which hold the official record of the veterinary professions in the UK. Plans for the collection includes cataloguing the material, which, given the large volume of materials collected, will require additional funding for RCVS Knowledge to complete. Potential funders are encouraged to contact RCVS Knowledge’s archives team.

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