At a time when this country, and indeed the entire world, is facing a challenge well beyond anything seen in living memory, it is not only populations and governments which are called upon to rise to that challenge, but also charities and welfare organisations who must mobilise all their resources to minimise the impact on those to whom they provide support. I am therefore greatly honoured to have been elected as President of Vetlife when the maintenance and delivery of its much respected services to the veterinary community of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland has perhaps never been so important.
One of the realisations that have come to me during my years journeying through the veterinary world is just how often life can deliver outcomes that are somewhat different to those one may have originally planned. For me this possibly even started when the school exam results I achieved proved unexpectedly good enough to enable me to access vet school in the first place. This marked my entry into the world of veterinary science and its practice, and the start of my membership of a global veterinary family populated by a diverse and vibrant cross section of people, all united in their interest in care for the health and wellbeing of animals.
A veterinary journey
My veterinary journey has so far taken me through unexpected employment situations, unforeseen challenges in daily veterinary practice and in work, unwanted injuries or illness, unplanned changes in career path, an unpredicted variety of countries of residence and sometimes seemingly intolerable stresses to personal and professional relationships. These diversions from any plan have often been less than comfortable routes down which to travel, all of which I am happily now able to look back on as having been ultimately, if sometimes painfully, negotiated. Many of those life journeys undertaken have involved passage through some form of personal tunnel, in which the light has not always shone obviously at the end, but for which the concerns, or even outright fears, accompanying the journey have been lessened by reaching out for a helping hand from a trusted friend or fellow traveller, or even by following helpful signs toward a brighter outcome.
Family, friends and social contacts are often the first to whom we might turn when faced with need of personal support, but there also may be times when these are not available, or perhaps not desirable in the circumstances. The confidential support provided by dedicated trained volunteers and staff at Vetlife, coupled with its access to mental health professionals and the financial safety net it can provide, has over many years proved invaluable for many in our veterinary community in helping them through their personal journeys. I have no doubt, especially with the circumstances we now face, that that there will be many more individual journeys through which its help may be sought.
Vetlife is always here for you
Vetlife is indebted to the tireless work of those who have given it their time in the past, and to its many current fundraising supporters, as well as to the invaluable contribution of its major donors. But calls for help are increasing, as are the necessary inputs to maintain services and processes to required standards, all at a time when the funding required is coming under ever more intense pressure. The nature of mental health challenges to our constantly developing veterinary community may vary with time, but they will not diminish in scope and potential impact on those who face them. It is to provide a supporting hand to others confronted by these challenges that the Vetlife Trustees, the small core of its dedicated staff, its professional consultants and its extraordinary volunteers continue to devote their efforts.
As President of Vetlife, the journey on which I now embark is to ensure that anyone in our veterinary family seeking that hand of support can continue to reach out and find it there in years to come – ready for them when they need it.
Come with me on that journey.