NICK Blayney’s BVA congress was initiated at Mansfield Street as he welcomed the delegates in the newly revamped BVA.
The reorganisation had enabled all the HQ staff to be sited within number 7; it was not unlike squeezing a quart into a pint pot – a trick that some delegates managed to duplicate as the caterers circulated with the drinks.
He seemed to be all in one piece for the Welcome Reception this year, unlike in 2006 when he sported a bandaged hand. No doubt the enforced absence from practice due to presidential duties significantly reduced the risk of injury, even if his beard seemed to be greyer.
Past president John Tandy had not been so lucky though. He had experienced a close encounter with his lawnmower which had done rather more than trim the toenails on one foot. Although wellies suffered permanent injury he managed to control the haemorrhage and live to tell the tale.
His wife, Carole, says that past presidents should not be allowed to use power garden tools but he is probably not listening. John is now back to jogging on alternate days and clearly likes to live dangerously.
The major part of this year’s congress was held at the Royal College of Physicians on Regent’s Park, an upmarket congress venue. Reports on the papers appear elsewhere but the facilities, catering and ambience were second to none.
This year we had the restoration of an element of CPD in the hope of increased registrations, an aspect that John Tandy had been pressing for years. Total numbers registered were 390 – a little disappointing but John says London congresses are too costly for the younger members.
Next year we shall see if he is right – he usually is – as the congress will be in Cardiff.
Annual general meetings are rarely exciting as they contain much routine business. The BVA finances are looking very healthy and are drawn to the attention of BVA members as some have been concerned about the cost of refurbishment of Mansfield Street at a time when we were still trying to recover from the problems that past president Peter Jinman inherited.
Not only did the refurbishment permit all the BVA staff to be housed in the one building, it also enabled the phone and computer systems to be updated, albeit at a cost of £500,000, which was offset by a significant increase in value of the property. As a result the BVA’s reserves increased by nearly £4 million during 2007.
The refurbishment enabled the BVA to vacate the rented offices in 9 Mansfield Street which means an annual saving of £200,000, although the one-off exit costs were nearly £150,000.
The underlying performance in income and expenditure in 2007 represented an operating surplus in excess of £500,000, a significant increase over 2006; but the exit costs for number 9 resulted in a final surplus of £361,000 despite capital expenditure of £88,000 on the computer and phone systems.
The BVA’s initiative for young graduates, including the mentoring scheme and Young Vet Network, reflects in part the 5.1% increased expenditure during the year but that is offset by a 6.8% increase in income. Publications and a real growth in membership numbers played their part.
The BVA capital reserves were just over £720,000 at the year end, compared to a target of £500,000 set four years earlier. That enabled the refurbishment to be financed without any loans or overdraft and provides sufficient reserves for any downturn in short-term finances.
This is no mean achievement and reflects great credit to the BVA staff as a whole, the board and, despite the challenging global financial picture, augurs well for the continued progress of the BVA in the future.
Special mention must be made of past president Brian Hoskin’s devotion to his task as chairman of the BVA board. He agreed to steer the association through troubled waters and spent many more days on it over the past five years than were originally envisaged.
That unstinting approach was seen and recognised by those closely involved in that time. They set the wheels in motion to initiate a one-off payment of £10,000 to Brian for those many days he volunteered to work – without complaint nor thought of compensation; the motion was carried nem con with acclamation.
David Catlow, retiring from the officer team, gave his valedictory speech and left as he entered, with humour. He compared the officer team to a rugby team and took the analogy right the way through them.
Nicki Paull proved she can be equally light-hearted. Referring to David’s analogy in her post-installation address, she observed that if Bill Reilly and Nick Blayney are the props, then she must be the hooker