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RCVS Day 2021 speeches: outgoing RCVS President Dr Mandisa Greene

Mandisa Greene speaking at the RCVS AGM on 9 July 2021 Good morning everybody.

Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.

This was on a plaque, entitled Attitude, that my parents give to me for Christmas when I was 16.

I have had it with me ever since, and I found myself looking at it often this year, especially in those early months of my Presidency as congresses and graduation celebrations I was due to attend in person moved online and I realised we would be working from home longer than I initially imagined, so,

I put aside my heels got comfortable in my fluffy socks and slippers and got to work.

Things never quite did return to normal but I did make the very best of it.

Many big and consequential events have happened during my presidential year - Eu-exit, the ongoing pandemic and, closer to home, the sale of Belgravia House, and yet none of these is the end of the story, we move on and learn to live and adapt to and thrive in the circumstances, which we find ourselves in.

This year I have been so inspired by our next generation of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses who are completing their training in the middle of a pandemic, keeping themselves motivated and dedicated to their studies whilst keeping each other safe.

I am also inspired by our veterinary teams who have had to put their own personal worries aside and, for many leaving their families at home, to turn up to work day in and day out to continue our vital endeavour of supporting animal health and welfare.

I'm inspired also by those who had to take a pause in their careers to attend to their caring duties.

Of course, while this year has allowed us to see into each others’ homes, it’s been quite difficult to reach into each others’ lives.

Some of us have sadly lost loved ones with a suddenness that we couldn’t possibly have imagined and for those who have lost loved ones, I am truly sorry.

For the names we know and for those we don’t, I encourage us all to have a moment of silence in remembrance of those who have passed away as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Standing before you now, I recall former presidents in my position at the end of their year reflecting on the work they completed.

One thing I have realised through my activities this year and through seeing how hard the RCVS has been working to fulfil the new Strategic Plan, despite all the challenges of the pandemic, is that the work is never complete.

We must never stop trying to improve what we do and how we do it - and that goes for us as veterinary professionals as well as the RCVS as our regulator.

Change is often likened to a marathon, it takes time but with the desire and consistent dedication and commitment to taking small but positive steps we will eventually see a big difference.

My vision for this year was to prioritise with renewed intention both diversity and the celebration of primary care professionals. Much has happened in that regard, but it does not stop with the end of my term.

We started our primary care project work through the Advancement of the Professions Committee with the aim of this project to champion general practitioner professionals, recognising the immense contribution that our general practitioners make to animal health and welfare and how they, as the members of the professions the public most often come into contact with, are the frontline ambassadors for the brilliance of what we do as veterinary professionals.

Another positive of the way we worked this year was that I have been able to speak to many students from Primary Schools right up to 6th form. 

I have also done various talks and podcast interviews, and by my count spoken to hundreds of students from a wide variety of backgrounds, most of whom are interested in becoming vets or vet nurses.

This has been a huge honour to use my platform to be a role model for so many. It gives me hope for our future but it has also confirmed a long held view of mine that the lack of diversity in our professions is not solely due to a lack of desire to join the professions.

Something happens somewhere along the way to alter the perception of what might be possible for some people.

The diversity and inclusion strategy launched this year is aiming to discover and address some of these issues, along with providing greater support for current veterinary professionals from ethnic or religious minorities or from the LGBTQ+ community.

There has been so much uncertainty during this pandemic, as well as regarding the EU exit, but what I know for sure is that we have a workforce and professions that can weather all storms, an RCVS team that will continue to deliver for the professions and public come what may, with an Executive Team strongly committed to the highest possible standards.

And now if you would permit my indulgence a few words of thanks….

Throughout my presidency I have been so grateful for the support of my loving husband Hector who probably began all of this thinking he would see much less of me at home, but we managed to work as team, through home schooling /self-isolation and everything else  that happened this year and we’re still smiling. 

To my children Tanashe and Asafa who brought joy and laughter to even the most tense of times this year. I love you and thank you all.  

For my mother Ruby who influenced my early love of animals and without whom I would not be here.

My mum advocated for me from as early as I could remember and believed my dreams becoming reality so fiercely with eyes always on the prize, that I did as well.

To my dad Alfred who raised me to be courageous and encouraged me to speak up when I needed to, you helped open my mind to the endless possibilities for my life. 

I spoke to both my mum and my dad almost every night of this year and that has been a source of grounding and comfort for me.

To my family, my siblings especially my sister Balissa and nephew Angelo who along with my mum, have been a fantastic source of support throughout the year, ensuring that everything worked as it should.

My sister often jokes that she is part of the production team for my life- quietly working the background ensuring all the details are taken care of.

I am lucky to have friendships that span over many years, and to my friends who have been there for me particularly over this year. I thank you all. To all our stakeholders, for our continuing great working relationship with the BVA and other veterinary organisations thank you all for your support and engagement even through some tough times.

I am extremely lucky to be able to call my colleagues on the Officer Team my friends and my Presidency has been made so much better with friends by my side.

I am grateful to the entire team at the RCVS who got the work done every day, to Lizzie Lockett our CEO who has been exceptionally brilliant at navigating all of us through this year and my fellow colleagues on RCVS Council who have offered unwavering support and encouragement,

I thank you all.


July 2021