Award honour for outstanding Ballymoney veterinary professional

A Ballymoney vet, who recently celebrated 50 years in the profession, has been honoured with a prestigious award from the British Veterinary Association.

David McKeown was presented with the Chiron Award in recognition of his work to support veterinary professionals with their mental health and wellbeing.

Mr McKeown received the award at the BVA’s annual Members’ Day, held at Clare College, University of Cambridge.

The Chiron Award acknowledges lifetime achievements in veterinary science, or outstanding services to the profession, and is judged as being of a standard that commands international or inter-professional recognition.

Chiron Award winner Dr David McKeown and outgoing BVA president Justine Shotton

After graduating from Glasgow in 1972, Mr McKeown established Knockanboy Veterinary Clinic in north Antrim in 1975. He spent the first 25 years of his career predominantly as a farm vet in a six-vet mixed practice in partnership with his fellow Glasgow graduate, Liam Kearney.

His time in practice overlapped with what followed as a second career – 31 years in the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS).

He has been an enthusiastic volunteer with both Vetlife and the Samaritans for 14 years, and now divides his time between a management role with the Samaritans, his volunteering with Vetlife and a volunteer role with VetSupport.

Mr McKeown’s interest in mental health matters within the profession emanated from seeing at first hand the impact on colleagues of claims and complaints during his time at VDS.

Ballymoney vet David McKeown

Through his vital work, he has been at the centre of providing reassurance and care for those in crisis, providing guidance with complete integrity and confidentiality.

Mr McKeown commented: “Having just celebrated 50 years as a vet, the news about this award left me speechless.

“I thought it was a prank call – I’m so glad I answered!

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think anything I have done would lead to receiving this amazing and prestigious award.

All of the Members' Day award winners

“I am humbled by BVA’s recognition and as a consequence the sense of optimism and enthusiasm which tends to perhaps define me has just been turbocharged!”

Other awards presented at the event included the BVA’s most prestigious scientific award, the Dalrymple-Champneys Cup and Medal along with the John Bleby Cup and Harry Steele-Bodger Scholarships.

Outgoing BVA president, Justine Shotton, stated: “Congratulations to all five winners.

“These highly sought-after awards shine a well-deserved light on an exceptional group of veterinary professionals, who each in their own field and practice, have helped propel the veterinary profession forward.

“Congratulations to you all on behalf of everyone at BVA.”

BVA Members’ Day and AGM is an annual event which includes the awards ceremony and the election of BVA’s president, senior vice-president and junior vice-president.

The BVA Member Survey 2022 is live until 3 October 2022, offering every BVA member the chance to help shape the future of BVA.

The survey takes just 15 minutes to complete using the unique link sent to members via email.

The results will be used to help BVA deliver the best possible support to the profession.