The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has announced the recipients of this year’s Honours and Awards. This year’s roster includes a renowned veterinary surgeon who pioneered an ethical approach to the vet-client-patient environment; a vet who has been a stalwart campaigner on identifying the links between animal and other forms of abuse; a microbiologist and pathologist involved in the development of Surrey vet school; and, a clinician leading the treatment of canine osteoarthritis.
The RCVS has a number of different honours and awards that represent the breadth and depth of excellence in the veterinary professions and recognise those veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and laypeople who are going above-and-beyond in a diverse range of areas such as research, animal welfare, clinical care, teaching and education, campaigning, international development and more.
RCVS President Dr Niall Connell said: “My hearty congratulations to all of this year’s award winners. Once again, it was a very strong field of people who have made and are making an indelible impact on veterinary science, the professions, animal health and welfare, food safety, public health, and plenty more besides.
“These are very tough times for the profession and the country as a whole, but these awards are a reminder of just how much talent, knowledge, and skill we have to offer our animals, our fellow human beings and our country when we work together for the greater good.
“I am particularly glad that we are awarding three Honorary Associateships this year, after a number of years in which none were awarded. All of our outstanding Honorary Associates demonstrate how and where non-veterinary colleagues can collaborate so effectively with veterinary professionals to bring about positive outcomes on animal and human health and welfare.”
The Queen’s Medal is the highest honour that the RCVS can bestow upon an individual veterinary surgeon and was launched in 2013 with the permission of Her Majesty the Queen. It recognises veterinary surgeons who have achieved highly distinguished careers and whose outstanding achievements deserve recognition. The recipient of this year’s Queen’s Medal is Dr Mary Stewart MRCVS, a retired academic who spent most of her career at the University of Glasgow where she was responsible for the development of the modern vet school.
Dr Stewart was nominated by Professor Stuart Reid, the Principal of the Royal Veterinary College and former Dean of the Glasgow Veterinary School. In his nomination he said: “Mary Stewart is one of the unsung heroes of the veterinary profession. A veterinarian graduating from Cornell in 1949, Mary has been MRCVS since 1951 and without doubt has been one of the major influencers of ethical approaches in the vet-client-patient environment and, in particular, the impact of euthanasia on both owners and attending veterinarians. Conducting nearly all her professional career in the UK, the vast majority at the University of Glasgow, Mary was of the generation selected by Sir William Weipers to create the modern school at Glasgow, an institution in which Mary played a pivotal role that would have reach nationally and internationally.”
The Inspiration Award can be bestowed upon up to two veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses each year recognising their ability to inspire and enthuse others consistently throughout his or her career. This year one Inspiration Award has been awarded to Dr Freda Scott-Park MRCVS. Dr Scott-Park is a former president of both the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) as well as the current coordinator of the Highlands & Islands Veterinary Services Scheme and a campaigner for identifying the links between animal and other forms of abuse through The Links Group.
Her nominator, Dr Paula Boyden MRCVS, wrote: “Freda’s dedication to areas that are important to her has been exemplary; without her tenacity and perseverance, awareness and acknowledgement of the link between violence to animals and violence to people would not be where it is. This awareness extends both within and beyond the veterinary profession, including the RCVS, Crimestoppers and Welsh Government. Freda has spoken widely and internationally on the subject, encouraging others to start their own programmes, achieved by providing initial training that groups can then develop as their own. She has been the driving force behind the Links guidance document ‘Recognising Abuse in Animals and Humans’, something that was not easy to draft, not least of all due to the subject matter. Furthermore, Freda’s chairmanship of The Links Group has developed a group of dedicated individuals from many different professions. As a result, the Group is ready to take the next step.”
The Impact Award can be bestowed upon up to two veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses who have recently made a considerable impact that has affected the profession at large, animal health or welfare, or public health. Such impact could have been made through any field of veterinary endeavour, including clinical practice, research, education or veterinary politics.
This year two Impact Awards have been bestowed. The first is to Dr Rosie Allister MRCVS, a leading campaigner and researcher for and about veterinary mental health, as well as a veterinary educator, the manager of the Vetlife Helpline and a member of the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative Taskforce.
Dr Ebony Escalona, her nominator, commented: “Dr Allister is widely respected within the veterinary profession and the academic community as one of the world’s leading experts on veterinary mental health. When she speaks at national or international conferences, appears on TV/radio or gives expert commentary in the veterinary press, it is with such empathy, connection, authority and professionalism that it encourages so many of us to have conversations that we sometimes struggle with. Her ability to mindfully challenge the status quo has moved on the concept of resilience from being an individual quality to one which needs workplace and environmental support.”
The second Impact Award recipient is Hannah Capon MRCVS, the co-founder and director of Canine Arthritis Management (CAM), a self-funded social enterprise that provides advice to both other veterinary professionals and animal owners on the treatment and management of arthritis in dogs.
Her nominator, Lynsey Tindall RVN, said: “The impact of Canine Arthritis Management’s multimodal educational management regarding chronic pain from arthritis is incredible and is not only growing as many more owners join; it has changed the perceptions of many dog owners, vets, vet nurses, and animal welfare professionals from different disciplines. There is a growing body of vets relying on the organisation’s resources and in turn, many are referring owners to its online resources and providing resources from it to help owners achieve a long-term management plan, enhancing the vet and owner relationship.”
After two years’ absence, this year the RCVS will be awarding three Honorary Associateships, bestowed upon those who are not veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses but who are making a considerable impact in the veterinary sphere, whether in the field of campaigning, charities, research, politics or journalism, for example.
This year’s first Honorary Associate is Professor Maureen Bain, Professor of Comparative Anatomy and Histology at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, and an Associate of Glasgow Vet School who has dedicated her career to research on improving the quality and safety of eggs for human consumption.
Her nominator was Dr Hayley Crosby-Durrani MRCVS who said: “Over the last 26 years, Maureen had dedicated her professional life to extensive veterinary teaching and research. Significantly, she has developed an interdisciplinary line of outstanding research on avian reproduction, looking primarily at developing novel methods for assessing eggshell quality through national and international collaborations with such diverse groups as engineers, molecular biologists and geneticists. Throughout her research career, she has worked closely with stakeholders in the commercial poultry industry including producers, nutritionists and primary breeding companies. This ‘extraordinary achievement’ has been recognised internationally, and her extraordinary research has helped the global poultry industry to develop molecular tools to improve selection for egg quality traits.”
The second Honorary Associate is Mike Flynn, the Chief Superintended of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), for his collaborative work with the veterinary profession in areas such as the illegal puppy trade and the Links Group.
His nominator, Dr Emma Callaghan MRCVS, said: “Mike has been a tireless supporter of the veterinary profession throughout his career and a dedicated servant to the Scottish SPCA working always to improve animal welfare. His career started with the SSPCA in 1987 during which time he has worked alongside veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses within the animal welfare centres looking after animals seized in the course of their work. Many of the animals seized will require veterinary attention in order to reach a suitable condition for rehoming or there may be circumstances where veterinary attention is necessary in order to relieve unnecessary suffering. Veterinary surgeons also play a key role in prosecutions as expert witnesses where animal welfare crimes have been committed. Mike is fully supportive of the work of veterinary surgeons both in assisting with the judicial process, but he also sees the fundamental value of vets working as front line educators and guardians of animal welfare through everyday interactions within first opinion veterinary practices throughout Scotland and the U.K.”
The third and final Honorary Associate is Professor Roberto La Ragione, the Deputy Head of the Surrey Vet School where he is also Professor of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology and Head of the Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases. Professor La Ragione was nominated for his contribution to veterinary education and research. .
His nominator, Dr Daniel Horton MRCVS, said: “Very few veterinary scientists, who have made such outstanding contributions to research, have also simultaneously been so instrumental in shaping veterinary education. His commitment to nurturing emerging talent is clearly manifest in the 25+ PhD students he has mentored, but in 2012 he was appointed Associate Dean for Veterinary Strategy at the University of Surrey and tasked with leading the development of the new school. At the time, opinion was divided on the need for additional schools, and it was in this climate that he was part of the team that successfully pioneered a partnership approach to veterinary education. That partnership approach continues to be a core part of the vision of the school, for which he has been one of the longest standing members of the senior management team, and is now Deputy Head. The recent graduation and entry to the college of the first cohort is validation of that bold strategy.”
No Golden Jubilee Award or International Awards will be bestowed this year.
Whereas normally this year’s RCVS Awards & Honours would be bestowed to all the award winners at Royal College Day in July, due to Covid-19 the 2020 awards ceremony will instead be part of the proceedings of a combined Royal College Day and Fellowship Day, which will take at the Royal Institution on 2 October 2020. This event may be subject to cancellation and postponement depending on the latest Government advice and restrictions on the prevention of transmission of coronavirus.