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Royal College Day 2023: Address from outgoing VN Council Chair Matthew Rendle RVN

My three years as Chair of VN Council haven’t been the easiest in terms of the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in.

Although I missed some of the fun bits of being made VN Council Chair, and I had to hit the ground running as we had an immediate global crisis to deal with, I do feel that the experiences I’ve had these last few years have more than made up for how it all began.

For me, a massive highlight of this role has always been welcoming new nurses to the profession, whether that is at one of our own Veterinary Nurses Days or a university graduation.

In my time as VN Council Chair, I’ve worked out that I have welcomed an amazing 1,268 nurses to the Registerduring these ceremonies.

They are such great events, buzzing with energy from these young men and women who have the whole world in front of them. Although I’ve been a veterinary nurse for more than 30 years – you can come out of those occasions feeling energised and with a renewed passion for what is probably the best job in the world.

These events are an amazing chance to tell these young veterinary nurses directly that they have a bright future ahead of them with many potential career paths; to update them on all that we’re doing and planning to enhance their roles in years to come; and to talk to them about the support we can offer them.

I have always wanted to do my best for the profession and, although I was nervous upon first taking the role, this means I have tried to do my utmost.

As someone who has anxiety and depression, sometimes the easiest thing to do would be to retreat into myself, but I have been determined to not allow mental health to hold me back, despite the challenges it can present. The message is that, if I can be Chair of VN Council, anyone can!

I mentioned the future of the profession earlier, and my three years as Chair have really cemented the fact that progress for veterinary nurses requires all of us pulling together.

And it’s not just about us bigwigs at the RCVS and the BVNA and other organisations – every veterinary nurse, including students, should have a voice and a say. As the German writer Goethe said: "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

To finish, I just want to thank all my colleagues on VN Council, you’ve been wonderful to work with these past three years.

Special thanks to my successor Belinda – as I was re-elected to VN Council this year, please know that you will have my support for your term of office, as you gave me yours.

Thank you also to the staff in the Veterinary Nursing team and the wider RCVS for all they’ve done as well. I don’t know if you’ve seen, but us veterinary nurses seem to be slowly taking over the RCVS with more than 20 members of staff being RVNs – clearly a very good thing in my opinion!

I think my overall feeling about being Chair of VN Council and playing my part in leading this profession I love can be summed up best by a quote from the Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum who said: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught."

July 2023