Fun and fellowship at VCF conference - Veterinary Practice
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Fun and fellowship at VCF conference

ALI BUDGELL reports on the 2013 conference of the Veterinary Christian Fellowship

WITH 140 vets, students and family members gathered at the Hayes conference centre in Swanwick for the biennial Veterinary Christian Fellowship weekend in March this year, it was set to be an excellent weekend.

It was the most amazing meeting, with a huge age range from students in their first years at college through to those who are now retired, but all sharing the common bond of the veterinary profession and their Christian faith.

It was an excellent time to meet old friends, make lots of new ones, have a college reunion, including a group of three who all qualified in Pretoria, and to earn CPD points at the same time.

Peter Comont, a Cambridge veterinary graduate who for many years now has been pastor of Magdalen Road Church in Oxford, was the guest speaker and gave an excellent series of talks from Ezra, and how we can apply it to our work and lives now.

New graduate seminar

The six seminar sessions touched on a wide variety of topics. Vikki Wyse, a 2012 RVC graduate, ran the new graduate seminar, looking at the transition from vet college to general practice, and all that that entails.

This year we were blessed to have two of the eight missionary families that VCF is involved with join us for the weekend. Bob and Jan Trelogan are currently back on home assignment and gave a fascinating talk on their work in Thailand. Jan Morrow, who works with Samaritans purse, had flown in especially from North Carolina with his wife Flor and their baby Valentiana, and it was a great joy to spend precious time with them and hear more about their hugely varied work.

For the first time, there was a “vet free zone”, allowing partners, spouses, etc., to share some of the delights and issues of living with a vet, and it was great for them to be able to share their thoughts with others who could understood.

Major Ann O’Flynn did an excellent practical session on sharing your own story and testimony using Paul’s conversion in the book of Acts as a model to follow.

Rory O’Connor, the national coordinator of the Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme, outlined his role and went on to explain the most common presenting health concerns among the veterinary profession, including students, and how they can be helped.

The 14 children who came along were taken excellent care of by a team of great volunteers, and all had a really enjoyable weekend together.

The famous Saturday night Ceilidh, expertly called by Chris Sawyer and Bryony Few, did not disappoint with all ages and abilities getting involved and having a great time.


Sunday we shared communion together and heard reports from the Christian Unions of the various vet schools, and had the opportunity to discuss and pray about issues raised. With 35 students present, including folk from all of the UK universities, it was an amazing time of sharing with them and hearing the joys and struggles of their journey.

For them it was the chance to meet up with students from the other colleges, as well as finding vets to see practice with and to mentor them in later years and once out in general practice.

Again partly with students in mind, VCF has seen numerous regional groups grow up over the whole of the UK in recent years.

Despite their common theme, they range greatly in how they are run, with some meeting monthly for bible studies, others two or three times a year for a social time and meal together, and the south-west group has just had their first CPD meeting with Peter Green as the guest speaker.

They not only provide support and fellowship for vets in the various areas, but also hope to support students who live close by, during their time at university and when they are out in practice, providing a network of support for young vets moving into new areas.

  • For more information contact Ali Budgell at or visit the website at

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