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Fellowship Day 2017

New and established RCVS Fellows and their families were welcomed to the Royal Institution in London on 20 October 2017 for the second annual RCVS Fellowship Day.

New Fellows at Fellowship Day 2017

Also in attendance were 25 veterinary students who had been invited to see the Fellowship for themselves, to help them understand how it worked and, hopefully, to inspire them to join it in the future.


Evolving the Fellowship

Nick Bacon, Chair of the RCVS Fellowship Board, opened proceedings, saying that a fellowship could be defined as a group of learned people who worked together as peers in pursuit of mutual knowledge or practice. Having been revitalised and relaunched in 2016, the RCVS Fellowship was intended to be an active collection of leading veterinary surgeons from diverse areas of interest, which would help to advance veterinary standards.

To aspire to be a learned society, the Fellowship needed to build a collective body with an energy, a vision and a purpose. He promised that the RCVS Fellowship would continue to involve, to evolve and to strive to become the premier veterinary fellowship in the world – a flagship fellowship in a country that took scientific discourse, freedom of thought and engagement in science very seriously.


New Fellows

Fifty new Fellows were welcomed to the RCVS Fellowship this year in recognition of their Meritorious Contributions to Clinical Practice, to Knowledge, or to the Profession. Fellowships by Meritorious Contributions to Learning and by Thesis were also awarded. Many of the new Fellows were present to receive their scrolls of Fellowship from the RCVS President, Stephen May, including four who had been awarded their Fellowships in 2016.

Congratulating all the new Fellows, Professor May explained that the Fellowship had originally been conceived in 1876 with the aim of promoting of veterinary medicine and surgery more effectively. That vision had never been fully realised, he said, but he believed that those who had established the original Fellowship would be proud to see how its modern incarnation was now moving towards achieving it.


Keynote address

The keynote address was delivered by Alice Roberts, author, broadcaster and Professor of Public Engagement with Science at the University of Birmingham. She examined how the relationship between human beings and animals had first developed, tracing the domestication of dogs, cows and horses. She explained how modern genetic techniques were being used to complement more traditional archaeological methods to determine when and where these species first started to be domesticated. Dogs, she said, were not only human beings’ best friend, they were also their oldest friend, with evidence of their domestication dating from before the last Ice Age. The earliest evidence of domestic cattle dated from 11,000 years ago, while horses were first domesticated about 6,000 years ago.


Fellows in Focus

The breadth of interests accommodated by the RCVS Fellowship was evident throughout the day. Those attending had the opportunity to view posters introducing the work of other Fellows, with subjects ranging from anaesthesia, to stem cells, to lamb losses. Following lunch, seven Fellows gave short presentations as part of a ‘Fellows in Focus’ session. They spoke on topics of their choosing, including rabies, bovine tuberculosis, One Health, veterinary primary care, corporate practice, cataracts, and the health of corals. There was also plenty of opportunity for networking and discussion.

A short film introducing ViVet, the RCVS’s wide-ranging programme aiming foster innovation for the good of animal health and welfare, was also shown during Fellowship Day.


Working with vet schools

Closing proceedings Dr Bacon told attendees about the ongoing work with the Veterinary Schools Council with a view to increasing engagement between the schools and the Fellowship. Representatives of the Fellowship would be visiting the vet schools over the coming year to explain what it was and what it could be.

Thanking everyone involved in the day, Dr Bacon hoped that the Fellowship would be a ‘long and exciting adventure’.