At its March meeting, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council approved this year’s Honours & Awards recipients who include: a veterinary surgeon and co-founder of a charity who has helped improve the lives of deaf people throughout the UK by providing them with hearing dogs; a veterinary surgeon who has campaigned to put sustainability at the heart of the professions; and a vet student responsible for organising an inaugural student congress.
All nominations for RCVS Honours & 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 2023 meeting.
The full list of awards and winners can be found below. No Compassion Awards, Honorary Associateships or Golden Jubilee Award has been bestowed this year.
The Queen’s Medal, which was approved by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 as the highest honour that the RCVS can bestow upon an individual veterinary surgeon, is awarded in recognition of someone who has achieved a highly distinguished career with sustained and outstanding achievements throughout.
This year’s recipient is Dr Bruce Fogle MBE MRCVS, an author and veterinary surgeon of more than 50 years’ standing. As well as being the Director of his London-based veterinary practice since 1973, Dr Fogle was one of five vets responsible for setting up London’s first ever 24-hour veterinary emergency service, was a co-founder of the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People charity in 1982, which has since paired 1,000 dogs and people, and is also chairman of Humane Society International UK, a charity protecting animals from abuse and harm, since 2012.
His nominator was Tina Leake RVN, who works with Dr Fogle at the London Vet Clinic. She said: “Dr Fogle was one of five vets who developed a pioneering plan to provide Londoners with access to 24-hour emergency veterinary care, to help improve the outcomes of ill and injured animals. This innovative scheme, launched in 1980, used the established Elizabeth Street Veterinary Clinic as a platform to become the first in the UK to offer 24-hour affordable staffed emergency veterinary care promoting his values of caring and compassion throughout his team and developing an unprecedented rapport with his clients and their pets from all walks of life. He was also one of the forerunners to use a human laboratory to evaluate small animal pathology samples.
“As a natural educator and admired author of many books, he has shared his knowledge and wisdom of animal care and welfare to millions of people worldwide, both public and professional. Bruce has also been a regular contributor to television, magazines, newspapers and radio, along with his charity fundraising.”
She added: “As an employer, Bruce is an inspirational role model whose expertise and enthusiasm is unparalleled. A true ambassador for the profession, he is always on hand to help mentor his staff to encourage and support them to follow their own veterinary pathway. Some employees have been with him for over 40 years, a true testament to his fair and guiding leadership. He is amiable and always approachable especially to the EMS students who are eager to learn and follow his career into the veterinary profession.”
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 endeavour 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 Mark Little MRCVS and Dr Collin Willson MRCVS.
Dr Little was jointly president of the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) Northern Ireland branch and the Northern Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA) for 2021/2022, a crucial time for the country’s veterinary sector as the impact of the post-EU Exit arrangements under the Northern Ireland Protocol were being worked out. A graduate of University College Dublin, Dr Little currently works as a veterinary advisor for a co-operative farming business.
He was nominated by Esther Skelly-Smith MRCVS, practice principal of Shanaghan Veterinary Services, who also served alongside him on BVA NI and NIVA. She said: “During his time as president, Mark recognised the need for and spearheaded the response around the concerning issue of veterinary medicine supply to Northern Ireland at the end of the Brexit “grace period” in December 2022. Had Mark not championed this issue, Northern Ireland could have lost access to over 50% of veterinary medicines. The NI veterinary profession, agri-food industry and wider animal industry owes Mark a great debt of gratitude of which many are unaware.
“Mark has worked tirelessly for the two-year project to safeguard the health and welfare of animals in Northern Ireland. He recognised how incredibly important it was to ensure a full complement of veterinary medicines remain available thereby preventing disease and unnecessary suffering. Mark also had the perseverance and insight to pursue this issue due to the important implications for the protection of human health, thereby eliminating the risk of potential zoonotic diseases.”
Dr Willson is the field veterinary lead for the Food Standards Agency in Wales and President of the Welsh division of the BVA. He was nominated for his long and impactful career in veterinary public health and food safety, including providing expertise and policy input to the BVA and its divisions and, in particular, for his work with the Halal meat industry, ensuring that the right balance is struck between animal welfare concerns and respect for religious and cultural practices.
His nominator was current BVA President Malcolm Morley MRCVS, who said: “As Chair of BVA’s Welfare at Slaughter Working Group, Collin led the development of our position on welfare at slaughter and has been instrumental in developing relationships with Halal certification body representatives to further our mutual aims of good welfare from farm to fork.
“In collaboration with Dr Awal Fuseini, Collin has transformed the way in which the veterinary profession engages with key stakeholders in the Halal sector to create a better understanding of the requirements of Halal meat production, and has enabled the sharing and recognition of the evidence-base relating to welfare at slaughter. Through his careful negotiation and management of relationships he has been instrumental in fostering a mutual respect and trust between the profession and community leaders.”
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 Katie Ford MRCVS and Dr Laura Higham MRCVS.
Dr Ford is the co-founder and director of Vet Empowered, where she works as a coach. She is also a co-founder of VetYou, an organisation that helps veterinary professionals with managing their finances.
Her nominator is fellow Vet Empowered co-founder Claire Grigson MRCVS, who said: “One of the key ways in which Katie has impacted the profession is through her dedication to supporting veterinary professionals. She is loved by many in the profession, and her contributions have impacted thousands of individuals. For example, she has bravely shared her own experiences of imposterism, low confidence, and mental health in order to signpost and encourage others to seek out help, support, and self-compassion.
“Katie has also gone on to train as a coach and is currently working on an Emotional Wellbeing Master’s degree. Her talks are always incredibly well received and ‘real’, with many attendees expressing gratitude and inspiration as a result of her words.”
Dr Higham is the founder and director of Vet Sustain, an organisation that supports veterinary professionals to become champions for sustainability and campaigners on issues relating to the environment and climate change. Working part-time as a veterinary consultant on sustainable livestock production, Dr Higham is also currently studying for a PhD in anti-microbial resistance at the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh.
Her nominator is Anna Judson MRCVS, a Vet Sustain supporter and current Junior Vice-President for BVA. She said: “Vet Sustain was set up in response to the pressing societal issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, public health threats and persistent animal welfare challenges. Recognising the unique “One Health” skill set and trusted position held by vets, vet nurses and members of the vet-led team, Vet Sustain has laid out its strategy for supporting the professions to create meaningful change through their work, all under the leadership of Laura.
“Following launch, Laura led the development of the Vet Sustain strategy, veterinary sustainability goals and new website, which includes a growing list of how-to guides, training resources and case studies designed to support veterinary professionals to promote environmental and ethical animal care and production.”
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 Sophie Oliver and Legend Thurman.
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 recipient of this year’s International Awards is Dr Denis Novak MRCVS.
Dr Novak was nominated for his work on improving standards in veterinary education in Serbia, where he works in practice in the capital Belgrade, the Balkans region and other areas of Eastern Europe through his work with the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA), where he is now President. He also founded the Eastern European Regional Veterinary Conference (EERVC), which has helped to bring affordable continuing professional development (CPD) and networking opportunities to veterinary professionals from across the region.
His nominator was Dr Wolfgang Dohne MRCVS, a UK representative on the board of FECAVA, who served as the organisation’s President prior to Dr Novak. He said: “Denis was instrumental in establishing freely-accessible continuing education (CE) events in many of these countries, overcoming in many cases the resistance of established (communist) structures.
“Denis has, in many cases, been supportive and instrumental with the establishment of new small animal associations in these countries and with new CE events in Europe and beyond like the new Middle East and African Veterinary Conference in Dubai. A lot of today’s continuing education in Eastern Europe would not have been possible without the help and the support of Denis Novak.”
Student Community Award
Sophie is a final-year student at the University of Nottingham vet school and was nominated for her part in organising the inaugural British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Student Congress in 2022, the first that covered students at all UK vet schools rather than being localised to a particular school. The Congress, which had over 450 attendees, also reached an international audience.
Her nominator is fellow final-year veterinary student William Brookes, who was part of the BSAVA Student Congress organising committee alongside Sophie. He said: “The aim of the BSAVA Student Congress was to provide an accessible way for students to dive deeper into areas they are interested in, put their vet school learning into context with cases, and provide the opportunity to ask questions to the specialists presenting.
“Sophie went out of her way to include a breadth of topics, including clinical talks from European Specialists, current affairs like sustainability, and areas not typically covered in great depth at vet school such as dentistry. She also pushed for each presenter to provide supplementary notes to accompany each session and built in Q&A time to engage with the presenters after every talk.
“Sophie also requested that the BSAVA display the Congress recordings on their online library, where they are free and accessible for any student that couldn’t attend live. Sophie was the driving force behind the creation of the free two-day event. She recruited the entire organising team to help her and pushed it and us to be the best it could be.”
Legend Thurman is a student at the Royal Veterinary College in London and was nominated for her work in representing fellow American students studying veterinary medicine in the UK via her presidency of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, encouraging career development opportunities for students, increasing scholarship opportunities for veterinary medicine courses, and mental health awareness.
Her nominator is Dr Sara Ketchum MRCVS, a recent RVC graduate who studied alongside Legend. She said: “Considering her graduation from the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy, her most recent talk series addressed worries of many new graduates such as how to navigate contracts and approach becoming a practice owner. Further, she has empowered women leaders in a recent book publication and continues to advocate for body positivity and equality in the workplace. Further still, Legend is the student representative on the RVC Learning, Teaching, and Academic Quality Committee and the Academic Board; she heavily advocates for a high quality of teaching and to give every student a chance to continue their studies despite academic hiccups.
“Legend is an excellent candidate for this award because she has appreciated the vast areas of veterinary medicine and truly seeks to improve opportunities for students.”
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 7 July at One Great George Street, Westminster. The Awards ceremony will start following the AGM at 1pm and will include a short address from Dr Fogle as recipient of the Queens Medal, as well as speeches from VN Council Chair Matthew Rendle, the outgoing RCVS President Melissa Donald, incoming President Sue Paterson, as well as a guest speaker.
Details on how to register for the event will be made available in due course.