An eminent academic recognised across the world for his contribution to research and veterinary governance, an international animal welfare consultant, a longstanding volunteer at a veterinary mental health charity and a student who helps connect his peers with nature are amongst those who have been bestowed awards by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) this year.
All nominations for RCVS Honours and Awards 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. The nominations were ratified by RCVS Council at its March 2022 meeting.
The full list of awards and winners can be found below.
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 Mike Herrtage, FRCVS, former dean of the University of Cambridge’s Veterinary School and currently emeritus professor of small animal medicine there, for his long-standing contribution to teaching, scientific research and the veterinary profession through providing his expertise to numerous veterinary organisations and charities.
Professor Mike Herrtage attended Liverpool Vet School and, upon graduation in 1975, worked as a house surgeon at Cambridge Vet School where he would spend the rest of his clinical and academic career. Throughout his career, Mike has also been involved in veterinary organisations and governance, for example, he was the first president of the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS) and served as president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) as well as being an RCVS Council member for 21 years. He has also had an extensive research career and has provided his expertise to charities such as the Kennel Club.
His nominator for the Queen’s Medal is Webinar Vet founder Anthony Chadwick who said: “Mike has worked at the University of Cambridge from graduation to retirement, showing a great degree of concern for the students and went above and beyond during his time teaching clinical studies to a very high level, even when he became Dean of the vet school.
“This extended beyond the remit of undergraduates to the many postgraduates who benefitted from his excellence whilst studying for PhDs and Diplomas and Certificates.
“The list of student diplomates reads like a Who’s Who of the veterinary profession. Many of these students are now working in academic institutes or referral centres in the UK and further afield. Mike’s excellence and commitment as a clinician has not stopped him publishing well over 200 papers in refereed and scientific and professional journals.”
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 three recipients of the Honorary Associateship: Norma Chapman, Joyce Wason and Jane Wilson.
Norma Chapman is a retired renowned mammologist specialising in deer biology, as well as being an advocate for animal welfare and the veterinary professions she has worked so closely with throughout her career.
Her nominator is Professor John Cooper, FRCVS, who has known Norma since the 1960s through their shared passion for animal welfare. He said: “Throughout her life, Norma has been an advocate for the profession. She has collaborated with veterinary practitioners, academics and those working in pharmaceutical companies, including anatomists, epizootiologists, pathologists, parasitologists and toxicologists.
“She has always willingly and unstintingly provided material (tissues and scientific data) for veterinary and biological research projects.
“Norma has always been involved in a multitude of other animal-related activities, bringing her into regular, close contact with veterinary surgeons. She is a long-term supporter of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) and has served on its committees. She has been closely involved with other animal-related charities, notably Brooke. In all matters relating to animals, she is a committed and practical welfarist.”
Joyce Wason is director of admissions and student support manager at the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine, where she has worked since 1994. Her role involves being a source of help and advice for applicants, students and graduates and, as a mental health advocate, she has championed, for example, student resilience training.
In his nomination for Joyce, Professor Ewan Cameron, MRCVS, head of Glasgow Vet School, said: “Over the years, Joyce has been ‘mum’, confidant, [and] support to thousands of vet students. This can mean being a supportive ear or providing hard hitting truths delivered with honesty and compassion that made them take note. Joyce has consistently exceeded what might be expected, showing exceptional dedication, often at the expense of her own personal time.”
He added: “Her long-term impact and reputation are evidenced by the excitement of alumni to see her at events, their willingness to help the school when requested and the fact that she is a person they turn to when there is tragedy.”
Jane Wilson is one of the longest-serving volunteers for Vetlife, having worked in her unpaid role with the charity since 1997 to provide free and confidential help on a 24/7 basis to members of the veterinary professions.
Her nominator, Vetlife Manager Dr Rosie Allister, MRCVS, said: “Jane has supported the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions quietly, diligently, and sometimes in a life-saving way for 25 years. Vetlife Helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day, so shifts covered by Jane include nights, weekends and holidays. Her huge compassion, attention to detail and commitment to callers has inspired other volunteers for decades.
“Jane’s commitment to supporting the veterinary professions isn’t just answering the phone at Vetlife, she has mentored many new volunteers, kept volunteers in touch through editing the new volunteers newsletter, held leadership support roles, supported selection and training of new volunteers and is hugely respected within the volunteer community.”
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: Dr Liz Barton, MRCVS, and Professor Clare Rusbridge, FRCVS.
Liz has made an impact within the profession for her championing of mental health and well-being, and for providing peer support for working parents in the veterinary professions having helped found the WellVet social enterprise, as well as the VetMums social media support group and the Veterinary Woman website.
Her nominator is Dr Catriona Curtis, MRCVS, who has worked with Liz through organisations such as the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS), Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify (VSGD), WellVet and Veterinary Woman. She said: “Throughout, Liz has worked full-time, supported her family and survived personal challenges and tragedies. She has triggered systematic change across the profession, always involving female leaders.
“We know from her co-founders and groups she set up that lives have been saved, countless significant well-being and mental health challenges have been helped and overcome, agile working practices adopted and brave career decisions have been made.
“The rapid launch of initiatives during COVID-19 to provide support to more than 1,000 working parents through online child classes and entertainment is another example of her work.”
Clare is professor of veterinary neurology at the University of Surrey’s School of Veterinary Medicine and was nominated for her research and clinical work on chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia in dogs, a painful disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
Her nominator is Shona McIntyre, MRCVS, head of the department of veterinary clinical sciences at Surrey Vet School, and said: “Clare has had massive impact on the welfare of dogs affected by this disease and their owners.
“Following her discovery of this problem in cavalier King Charles Spaniels in 1997, she delivered the first comprehensive description and has continued to refine understanding of the pathogenesis, genetics and treatment of this disorder.
“She has authored 59 scholarly articles on this subject alone along with book chapters and co-editing a textbook on the human disease. She provides extensive online resources for the veterinary profession, breeders and dog owners.”
The Inspiration Award was also launched in 2017 and is bestowed upon a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse at any stage 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 Alex Davies, MRCVS, and Dr Brian Faulkner, FRCVS.
Alex is current president of Vet Mentor where he is also chief mentor and his role entails inspiring school-age students to consider applying for vet school and helping those who are interested in veterinary careers with information such as how to get work experience placements and what to expect from vet school.
His nominator is Teri-Ann Baldwin, RVN, who previously worked with Alex at a veterinary practice in Bridgend. They said: “Alex has been steadfast in his mission to nurture and inspire students through their journey into vet school and beyond.
“It is no secret that the application process into veterinary can be a daunting and complicated experience for students, parents and even teachers.
“Alex has innovated, strategised and played a leading role in the creation of multiple educational programmes designed to enthuse, inspire and inform students on what the role of the vet is, raise aspirations towards veterinary medicine and promote accessibility to the profession for a more diverse cohort of students.”
Brian is the current owner of Aldeburgh Vets in Suffolk and was nominated for his championing of non-clinical skills in veterinary practice as a way of improving the vet-client-patient relationship and the wellbeing of the veterinary team. He is also the founder of the British Veterinary Receptionist Association (BVRA), established to provide representation and raise the status of these key members of the veterinary team.
His nominator is Richard Holborow, MRCVS, who worked with Brian as a member of the SPVS Council where they bonded over shared views on the importance of non-clinical skills. He said: “He has put his theories into practice, developing and implementing innovative and highly effective practical ways of overcoming many of the obstacles faced, especially by new and recent graduate vets.
“He has expanded this focus to include the similar issues faced by veterinary nurses and support staff, with evidence-based training in communication skills, wellbeing, and sustainable and ethical commercial development of veterinary practice.
“Brian has delivered personal help and support to many individuals, but perhaps more importantly, he has developed effective and beneficial models and mindsets that will help and support many more members of the profession in future years.”
The RCVS International Award, first bestowed in 2017, recognises veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses or lay people who have worked internationally, from either within or outside the UK.
The recipients of this year’s International Awards are Miranda Luck, RVN, and Professor Holger Volk, MRCVS.
Miranda is an international animal welfare consultant whose passion is improving the welfare of animals in care or confinement, for example, in shelters or quarantine facilities.
Her nominator is Kay Gibbins, managing director of MDC Exports, a manufacturer of animal handling equipment, and who first met Miranda at an animal welfare conference over 10 years ago. She said: “As an experienced veterinary nurse and educator, Miranda introduces shelter medicine and humane handling to many organisations worldwide. Veterinary clinics, animal rescue and rehoming, pounds and stray and feral populations have benefited from Miranda’s hands-on help, training and mentorship.
“She has shared her skills and knowledge with numerous charities, NGO’s, municipalities and governments worldwide, including those in Barbados, Canada, Croatia, Costa Rica, Greece, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and the USA.
“Despite illness and injury, she continues to be one of those people who just does not stop and is constantly improving, promoting or highlighting the importance of animal welfare.”
Holger is head of the department of small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany as well as honorary professor of veterinary neurology and neurosurgery at the Royal Veterinary College in the UK.
His nominator is Dr Richard Meeson, FRCVS, head of orthopaedic surgery and associate professor of small animal orthopaedics at the Royal Veterinary College, who says that while Holger has had a very distinguished career in basic and clinical research, it is during the coronavirus period that it has had a very clear societal impact.
He said: “Through his ability to bridge the gap between basic and clinical science he has been able to create impact into society, animal welfare and clinical practice. He has had a sustained impact in the field of neurology and, more recently, in the efforts against SARS-CoV-2.
“His group was the first to publish peer-reviewed evidence that scent detection dogs can discriminate samples from SARS-CoV-2 infected from non-infected individuals. This work has been disseminated widely in the scientific community and the public, featuring in media outlets worldwide. He continues to play a leading role, currently working with the World Health Organization to further develop the impact of scent detection dogs in the fight against this and future pandemics.”
This award was launched in 2020 to reflect the focus of the RCVS on compassion, as part of its 2020 to 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 recipients of the Compassion Award are Dr Glen Cousquer, MRCVS, and Katie Moore, MRCVS.
Glen is lecturer and programme coordinator in One Health and conservation medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh where he also acts as a mental health first aider and peer support.
His nominator is Louise Buckley, RVN, who is deputy programme director for the ChM Urology at the University of Edinburgh and has known and worked with Glen since 2005. She said: “Glen has been a champion for compassion and compassionate listening ever since I have known him.
“When he first returned to the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies to teach on and coordinate the One Health and Conservation Medicine MSc programmes, I asked him to deliver a unit on self-compassion and self-care for animal carers as part of the Companion Animal Behaviour MSc. He delivered this in collaboration with the University Chaplaincy team with whom he collaborates tirelessly to promote a compassionate culture across the wider university.
“Shortly after this, he became a founding member of the Campus Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee that he has now been chairing since 2020. In this role, he has led and supported a team that provides a regular programme of events to promote staff and student mental health and well-being.”
Katie is chair of Vetlife helpline and health support, as well as working as a claims advisor at the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS) and in clinical practice. Through her role with Vetlife she was one of the architects of its Health Support Service launched in 2017, which provides free help from experienced mental health professionals to vets and nurses experiencing mental health difficulties.
Her nominator is Rosie Allister, Vetlife helpline manager, who said: “Katie’s work embodies compassion, through understanding, empathy and tireless action. She has achieved change which has touched the lives of many veterinary professionals. With the humility that is characteristic of her, this contribution is substantial but largely unseen.
“Katie’s role in Vetlife has been transformative. She commissioned and pioneered the development of the award-winning Vetlife Health Support service, which offers professional mental health support to vets, veterinary nurses and students.
“Her energy, commitment, passion for quality and attention to detail are incredible, and evident in the high quality clinical service now being delivered.”
Student Community Award
The final award, which was also founded in 2020, is the RCVS Student Community Award. This 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 recipients of this year’s awards are Paul Gogerty and Fergus Mitchell.
Paul is a final year student at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine who, during his time there, has helped champion the importance of connecting with nature for mental health and well-being.
His nominator is Dr Glen Cousquer, MRCVS, who cited one example of his efforts saying: “Paul invested considerable time preparing a successful Student Experience Grant application that has allowed us to deliver three intensive and immersive, seasonal, weekend nature awareness courses for twelve undergraduate students.
“These weekends allowed students to experience and discover the wildlife living on campus and to learn about wildlife tracks and signs, camera trapping, campus biodiversity, species monitoring and surveying and the benefit that nature has for our own mental health and wellbeing.”
Fergus is a student at the University of Nottingham Vet School where he has acted as a student welfare officer and has also undertaken a number of research projects on the connections between physical and mental health, the conclusions of which were presented at the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative’s Research Symposium last year.
His nominator is Georgina Bladon, MRCVS, a teaching associate in clinical skills at Nottingham, who said: “We are fortunate at Nottingham to have a student society position of ‘Student Welfare Officer’ – for students interested in mental health to support their peers and promote student wellbeing during their studies. However, Fergus has been an exemplary student for this role, during a challenging year for all veterinary students.
“During the pandemic, Fergus has been at the forefront of the student community, arranging and planning talks and workshops on mental wellbeing to support his peers. It is no easy feat to organise sessions remotely, both proactively and reactively to student struggles, but he has an unwavering determination to support his peers’ well-being with infectious enthusiasm.
“In addition to his efforts with the project, it is these character attributes of dedication and passion to promote student wellbeing that compel me to nominate him for the Student Community Award.”
AGM and Awards Day
All of these awards will be presented to the recipients at this year’s RCVS Annual General Meeting and Awards which takes place on Friday 8 July at One Great George Street, Westminster. The Awards ceremony will start following the AGM at 1pm and will include short speeches for award recipients, and addresses from VN Council Chair Matthew Rendle, the outgoing RCVS President Kate Richards and incoming President Melissa Donald as well as a guest speaker.
Members of the professions can register to attend the event on this webpage. Those who aren’t able to attend on the day can also register for a livestream of the event via the same link.