Highlights of my presidential year – BSAVA President Sue Paterson

This is the fourth of my blogs and I thought I might use the opportunity to share with everyone some of the highlights of my presidential year and pull a few of the thank yous from my sadly now redundant AGM speech. I have to start by saying it has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to serve the Association as its President this year, however in the same breath I must add it has been one of the most exhilarating, humbling, challenging and exhausting years of my life to date …… and it has gone in a twinkle.

Following the changes to our articles last year at the AGM the Trustee status of the Association has moved to the BSAVA Board. These changes have allowed us to be more nimble in decision making and has allowed us to implement a whole raft of initiatives that are already starting to deliver results, but will come to fruition over the next two years.

Sadly there is not enough space in this short blog to talk about the BSAVA vision and mission, and our strategic plan which aligns with them under the dual pillars of Membership and Education & Science or to run through the ways in which we have started to implement that strategic plan but for those who are interested, you can review the Annual Report. Suffice it to say it has been a busy year!

There is no doubt that BSAVA Congress is the world’s premier small animal event, although our exhibition is changing the Congress itself continues to deliver year on year, state of the art educational content delivered by world leaders. This year should have been our last year of Congress in Birmingham and whilst Birmingham has been a magnificent host for our Congress for the last 30 years, we are moving to Manchester with a huge degree of excitement.

As a Mancunian, I have to confess I have a slight northern bias here – but nevertheless, Manchester offers the opportunity to re-invent the veterinary Congress, and Manchester will be a very different beast to the Congress we know.

Lectures will shorten and be combined with state-of-the-art short communications, and our exhibition will develop into a more immersive educational experience which will be free to all members of the practice team. And of course, Mancunians are some of the nicest people on the planet. Nothing to say of the gin bar underneath the venue.

Scottish Congress continues to provide valuable CPD for our colleagues north of the border, it will change location this year moving to Falkirk. Certainly in my year of a dozen or more gala dinners Scottish hospitality was my favourite, run a very close second by the Welsh.

I am hugely proud that as an Association we have the courage to try something new and push the boundaries. In 2019 BSAVA stuck its head very firmly above the parapet to deliver two entirely new events.

Vet Cymru, masterminded by our amazing Welsh volunteers, chaired by the indefatigable Kate O’Sullivan and aided and abetted by Carole Haile, was launched in June 2019. An absolute triumph and an exemplar of our ethos “by the profession for the profession”.

Summit, our second potential banana skin, took place in December 2019. My thanks go to the numerous people who helped launch  Summit which was a completely new concept in veterinary continuing education. We were blown away by the energy and enthusiasm created by the event and gathered some great ideas on how to move it forward. We have taken on board all the feedback and comments and aim to create an even bigger and better event this year.

Finally I do want to say a few thank yous…

Firstly to my long suffering husband Richard. Even after a year of fending for himself whilst I have been away from home for weeks at a time – he still can’t cook, and he is looking forward to eating food off plates rather than out of plastic microwavable containers. Susan Dawson, a friend and past president of the Association, advised me it was easier to buy new clothes rather than wash them and iron them at break-neck speed when you got home to change suitcases between meetings, however although I have enlarged my wardrobe significantly over the last year, my old man has honed his washing and ironing skills, and whenever he has delivered me to home having picked me up from the train station, there has always been a pile of freshly washed and ironed clothes for me. I am not looking forward to going back to ironing!

A massive thank you to all the amazing staff at Woodrow House, our management team in no particular order Carole, Mark, Emma, Ian, Simon, Shell, Angharad, Amelia, Sarah, Elle and Lucie and everyone in their departments. A special thanks to Amanda for her professionalism, her calm head, her wisdom and her friendship.

Thanks as well to all our incredible regional volunteers. I have been to every region over the last 12 months and got to meet them all personally to be able to fully appreciate the hard work they all put in. I am really looking forward to joining the volunteer army again. And finally the BSAVA Board. I am not going to lie, it has been challenging at times keeping 5 blokes in-line, but they are the most amazing team and have played no small part in the progress the Association has made over the last 12 months and will continue to make through the stewardship of Ian, Sheldon and Alison. I know I am leaving the Association in good hands.