Graham Dick (President)
Since graduation from Bristol, I have enjoyed a variety of roles within the veterinary community that binds our profession globally. My career has embraced 15 years in mixed clinical practice, a period in what was then the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the international world of animal therapeutics, based for some years in Australia and then Germany. For many years I encountered the health and welfare issues of animals in differing livestock or household conditions around the world. No matter which animal, or circumstance , I have an enduring appreciation of the commonality of purpose and the unity of spirit of all those engaged in their veterinary care.
Having retired in 2013 from my final role as Head of the Animal Health Division of Bayer for UK & Ireland my veterinary life has further continued to expand in many ways. I am currently Non-executive Chair of an international veterinary services business, a Trustee of RCVS Knowledge and am privileged to have been made an honorary life member of the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) for services to the animal health industry; I also occasionally provide consultancy services to international veterinary business.
In my previous role as Hon. Treasurer of Vetlife I have sought to ensure that the charity has the necessary resources to meet the ever growing challenges before it – not least those presented by Covid-19. Having been honoured to be elected President of Vetlife, it is my pleasure to work with its wonderful team of dedicated staff and volunteers to maintain, and indeed expand, the quality of service it provides and to honour and grow the reputation that Vetlife has justly earned from all parts of the veterinary community we support.
Paul Horwood (Honorary Treasurer)
I graduated from RVC in 2000, and following an Internship and Residency, I joined a farm animal practice and stayed and helped grow the business as Owner, Partner and finally Director until December 2017.
For many years I was also an Officer in the Army Reserves and deployed to Afghanistan where I commanded infantry soldiers under intense physical and psychological pressure.
I now run a successful leadership training company and spend a lot of my time talking to professionals about leadership, resilience and motivation, based on my experiences in the veterinary field, running a large veterinary practice, and my time in the military.
As my career has progressed, I have become more aware of the issues surrounding mental health and well-being, and the support and advice that is available to vets. I got involved with Vetlife because I value the support that it is able to give and the unique way it helps the profession.
John Chitty (Honorary Secretary)
I graduated in 1990 from the RCVS and have been in private practice ever since. I currently co-own a practice in Hampshire with my wife, and am an Advanced Practitioner in Zoological Medicine. As with many veterinary families my daughters (now grown up and non-veterinary) have also had roles in the practice from a young age!
I have published and presented widely and am a Past-President of both BSAVA and the European Association of Avian Veterinarians. While with BSAVA I had the privilege of acting as their representative to the Mind Matters Taskforce and to Vetlife. I was also able to become involved in many areas of support for vets and nurses and have a particular interest in mentorship and its role in practice.
Vetlife are a core part of the veterinary community and I am honoured to have the opportunity to work within the organization and use my experiences in practice to assist Vetlife’s essential work.
During this time as one of 2 directors of this group I witnessed employees having to deal with a range of issues and saw first hand that the support provided by Vetlife within the practices was superb.
I was also involved in the setting up of the SPVS Wellbeing awards and have been actively involved in promoting this award and highlighting the importance of wellbeing in practice.
I am passionate about providing support and help for the veterinary profession with health and financial difficulties.
I qualified from Glasgow in 1984 and worked in a truly mixed practice for five years (during which time I obtained my Certificate in Veterinary Radiography) before moving to Nottingham to concentrate on small animal matters; I bought the practice in 1996 and have developed it since then, and although I still spend the majority of my working time as a front line small animal practitioner, I am fortunate enough to enjoy several other part-time jobs. These include editing an international clinical journal (Veterinary Focus), and serving as a consultant for Anval, the company that specialises in offering business advice to veterinary practices; I also do some work for the University of Nottingham and I served as a non-executive director for BVA for three years.
I became a member of Vetlife many years ago (1996) when I was asked to serve as the area representative for the East Midlands – a post I still hold – and I have long-term first-hand experience of the charity and how it functions. I have also served on the financial sub-committee in the past, and understand how the fund manages its investments and prioritises its decisions, which ensures it can deliver assistance where it is needed most whilst still managing to balance the books and satisfy the conditions laid down by the Charities Commission. The last twenty years has opened my eyes to the often desperate plight of some Vetlife beneficiaries and the absolute need for a charity dedicated to helping individuals within our own profession. The charity does unique and invaluable work to support members and dependants of the profession who, for whatever reason, need assistance.
I know from first-hand experience and from being a Vetlife Helpline Helper that working in practice is challenging and stressful at times. Very often these stresses are not left behind in the surgery and can affect both home and social environments.
I have worked in a wide range of professional environments covering private and co-operatively owned practices, both in the UK and overseas, as well as the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, I work in small animal practice and as a Claims Adviser for the Veterinary Defence Society, providing advice and assisting colleagues dealing with complaints. I have been a trustee since 2015 and I currently Chair both the Vetlife Helpline and Vetlife Health Support services.
I graduated from Bristol Vet School in 1995 and started my professional life in small animal practice. After six years in clinical practice I had failed to find the job of my dreams so, disengaged and disenchanted, I was looking for a way out and I can honestly say an industry job saved my veterinary career in 2001.
Since starting in the profession, my experience in vet clinic, working with universities, independent and corporate vet customers, and 14 years working in a global multinational corporation has equipped me with a wide knowledge of the veterinary profession and the different working environments in which vets find themselves. It has also left me with a large network of colleagues and a broad commercial skillset. The experience, commercial and financial skills will be a significant benefit to Vetlife.
The way my career has been shaped means I have a lot to contribute to the work of Vetlife and the wider vet community and it is a privilege to do so. I hope to make a contribution in helping my professional colleagues find fulfillment in their life and work.
I have spent my career in mixed, equine and small animal practices all over the UK and New Zealand and I have been a project manager for an oil company in Iraq.
I am currently working part time at Langford Vets, University of Bristol as a business relationship and communications manager and I spend the rest of my time locuming.
I particularly enjoy volunteering with One health projects involving rabies eradication, working horses and livestock in India, Morocco and The Gambia.
I am an elected members of the RCVS Council and a member of the BVA Policy Committee. I founded the Veterinary Voices UK Facebook page which provides a forum for vets to support each other and discuss issues in a safe and friendly environment.
I firmly believe that good communication skills are key to a less stressful and more fulfilling career. Students and graduated vets need to be fully aware of this and not view communication with clients as a side issue to their medical knowledge.
I graduated from Glasgow Vet School in 1996 and after a short time in practice undertook an equine residency and then a PhD at Edinburgh Vet School becoming a diplomate in Equine Internal Medicine in 2009. I have enjoyed the ability to travel with my veterinary degree and have worked in New Zealand and the USA, which has brought me into contact with many veterinary students, surgeons and support staff who face the same stresses and strains the world over. I have been affected both personally and second-hand by mental ill-health and am a massive advocate for supporting wellbeing within the profession. Since receiving an adult diagnosis of autism, I am also particularly interested in improving support for neurodiverse individuals. I am currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in Equine Medicine at the University of Nottingham and am passionate about embedding a culture of wellbeing awareness within the veterinary curriculum to prepare and sustain veterinary students for their career.
I joined the Vetlife Board of Trustees in November 2020 after twelve years as a Vetlife Helpline volunteer. I retired from a large mixed practice in Northumberland in 2017, where I had worked for over thirty years, initially single-handed and then as a partner and director. Since retirement I have maintained my involvement in the profession, both through Vetlife and as a regional representative on BVA Council.
I have long experience of the stresses of a veterinary life, as well as the business experience that I can apply to the good governance of Vetlife. My involvement with Helpline has opened my eyes to the real need that there is in the veterinary community, and the tremendous job that Vetlife does in meeting that need, whether it be in the form of emotional, financial or mental health support.
After graduating from RVC in 2002, and being involved as a student in the national effort to control Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001, I worked initially in Essex, before moving with my wife to a practice in Uttoxeter. Over my time there and in Ashbourne, my interest in infectious disease control developed, which saw me coordinating regional BVD control schemes as well as being amongst the early advocates of controlling the controllable with Bovine TB.
I joined Helpline in 2016 and remain involved as a Helpline volunteer, as well as a Trustee of the charity. It is my hope that over the coming term, the charity will continue to thrive by further joining up the threads of excellent work that it does for so many in our profession.
I graduated from the RVC in 1991 and my veterinary career has encompassed a period as an assistant in a traditional mixed practice, being a partner in a small animal practice for around 14 years, working as a locum for a range of local small animal practices, both corporate and independent and finally being involved as the small animal clinical lead in the amalgamation of three independent practices to set up of a 16 vet hospital practice in West Wales.
Being a veterinary surgeon defines me as a person and I have always been passionate about mentoring and supporting younger colleagues during the course of my career. I joined the Veterinary Defence Society in 2011 combining this with some part-time work in practice initially and became a full-time small animal claims consultant in March 2012. I have also been a member of the Mind Matters Taskforce for the past 5 years.
I am very aware of the stability and support Vetlife can bring to a person during times of crisis. Vetlife offers a life-line to the profession and I am honoured to have been elected as a Trustee and very much looking to working within the organisation.