Meet our new BSAVA President, Carl Gorman
15 June 2023
We’d like to introduce you to our new President, Carl Gorman! You might already know Carl as he’s been our Vice President for the past year, but here’s a chance to get to know him a little better as he embarks on his year of Presidency with us.
What’s your journey been as a BSAVA volunteer so far?
I joined BSAVA long ago as a student – so I will have been a member for some 40 years. Like many members, I probably thought of BSAVA as the source of JSAP, regional and national CPD meetings and of course Congress. I first attended Congress in London as a student, then followed to Harrogate and Birmingham, watching it grow and firm its position as an essential part of the veterinary calendar. For many years I wouldn’t have been aware of the other aspects of BSAVA, such as our role in national consultations on animal health and welfare, and legislation, or our contribution to research into pet health via BSAVA PetSavers.
I was invited to attend a Southern Region committee meeting in 2013 and learned about the regional structure of the association. I agreed to become the Southern region secretary at my second meeting, which threw me in at the deep end. Soon after that I became one of six Regional Representatives. In this role I sat on Council, and so becoming a director of BSAVA. I also joined BSAVA Scientific committee, learning more about the structure and function of the association. While in this role I was involved in the governance changes that we went through, and in the search for a fresh venue for Congress. I also helped champion nurse membership, enabling them to become full members of BSAVA and so chair regional committees and to join Board if the opportunity arises.
I have been on our publications and education committees as well, enjoying helping with these important areas of BSAVA activity.
After three years as a Regional Representative I was accepted as Honorary Secretary, taking over from Ian Ramsey, who as always was a font of knowledge and a great support. The years as secretary were perhaps more exciting than I would have imagined! We were implementing our governance changes, which saw Board becoming the sole trustees and directors of BSAVA, with all the responsibility that brought. This was rapidly tested by the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and the agonising decision that we took to cancel Congress in 2020.
I’m very proud of the way that Board and BSAVA staff and volunteers worked so hard to maintain our support for the profession, and to deliver alternative methods of CPD delivery, including a very successful virtual congress in 2021. After a further three years as Honorary Secretary, I was delighted to be appointed as Junior Vice President and to start on the presidential ladder.
Volunteering at all levels of BSAVA has brought the opportunity to meet and work with so many wonderful volunteers and staff from all areas of our profession. The fact that BSAVA is a charity is important to me, and I believe in our mantra of ‘By the profession, for the profession’.
Could you tell us a bit more about your day-to-day job?
My main job is as clinical director of a busy small animal and exotics practice in Newbury. This was my practice for many years and is now a part of CVS. I enjoy all aspects of practice, but surgery, geriatrics and exotics are particular interests. I am a clinical instruction mentor for Surrey University, and we are a partner practice with Surrey University, helping to train final year vet students.
I still love my day-to-day job of being a vet in practice. The relationships built up with clients and staff over many years are important to me. I also enjoy mentoring new and recent graduates. I’m pleased to say that they have thrived in our practice, and many have gone on to higher qualifications and residencies at referral centres. I am also a mentor for Bristol vet students which I have also found rewarding.
I was asked many years ago to write a book for clients on the care of geriatric dogs. ‘The Aged Dog’ was my first book and was well received although clients always commented that the chapter on euthanasia was the one that touched them. Following this I collaborated with a local publisher to become series editor for several non-clinical books aimed at vets. I wrote the first in the series, ‘Clients, Pets and Vets’ which was on communication and client management.
In 2020 I was asked to take on an editing and managing role for UK Vet Companion Animal journal. I spent many years commissioning and editing and occasionally contributing to the journal. It is now part of Mark Allen publications, and I am still the consultant editor.
Outside of the veterinary world I was for many years treasurer of my local sports club (tennis and table tennis). I am now chairman of the club. I see sports or other interests outside of work as very important. I enjoy tennis, golf and cycling and with a couple of friends we try to try out new sports wherever we can. This has had us learning rowing (and taking part in a regatta), curling, canoeing, paddle boarding, padel (like a sort of short tennis) amongst others. I am also a passionate Spurs and Scotland fan – so you can tell I am an eternal optimist.
Why did you decide you’d like to become BSAVA President?
My path towards becoming President has been an evolution. I am very bad at saying no, which has meant I have had a busy life, but has also enabled me to take up opportunities I might never have had a chance to experience.
BSAVA has always been important to me in my professional life. Since becoming a volunteer, I have admired even more the dedication of the staff and volunteers who make up the association. I see my time on BSAVA Board as a service to the association and to the small animal veterinary world. Becoming President is a huge honour but is part of an ongoing commitment to doing what I can to help BSAVA thrive.
What do you have planned for your presidential year?
Like most areas of life, the veterinary world has undergone dramatic developments and changes. The ambitions and expectations for new vets starting out on their careers are very different to those that we had back in the mid 1980s when I qualified. BSAVA is also facing challenges and opportunities in just the same way. We are in the process of a wide-reaching analysis of the profession and the association’s role in supporting our community. A large part of my role will be implementing the strategy that results from this project.
I see promoting a sense of community as an important part of BSAVA’s role. Our volunteers experience this strong community feeling and I would like our wider membership to engage with us and each other. Our current President, Alison Speakman, has worked hard to promote our wellbeing activities and I want to ensure this continues in collaboration with other organisations. My wish is that we can be a support not just to vets and nurses, but to the whole veterinary team.
Sustainability in the profession is also a passion of mine. I established and Chair our Sustainability Working Group, made up of staff members and volunteers who look at our impact as BSAVA, and aim to assist the wider profession in reducing our environmental impact. Amongst our achievements we have joined Investors in the Environment and have our bronze accreditation. We will be working towards silver status.