New BVA President champions key role of veterinary community

editorial image

Veterinary consultant and senior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Simon Doherty was elected President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) for 2018/2019 at BVA’s annual Members’ Day at the National STEM Learning Centre in York on Thursday.

Simon graduated as a veterinary surgeon from the University of Glasgow in 2000, after which he worked for five years in mixed practice in West Stirlingshire, Scotland, and in North Down, Northern Ireland. He was instrumental in setting up Veterinary Northern Ireland (VetNI) as a ‘one-stop shop’ for the local veterinary associations in Northern Ireland.

In 2007, Simon was appointed as a Veterinary Research Officer at the Veterinary Sciences Division of the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Stormont, Belfast, where his research interests included novel vaccine technologies in farm and aquaculture species, colostrum management in dairy systems, and the detection and control of epizootic diseases. He was appointed an Honorary Lecturer in Animal Health & Welfare at QUB in 2011.

Simon returned to the private sector in 2014, and in 2015 he set up Blackwater Consultancy Ltd, which works with companies to drive inward investment and support export trade in the animal health and aquaculture sectors. For three years, he was the Animal Sciences and Aquaculture specialist for the Department for International Trade (DIT). In June 2018, Simon was appointed to a senior role within the Institute of Global Food Security (IGFS) at QUB. He is involved in teaching, curriculum development and commercial interactions relating to animal health and aquaculture.

Simon is a past president of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association and of the Northern Ireland Branch of BVA. He currently chairs the UK One Health Coordination Group and is one of two BVA representatives at the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe (FVE). He also chairs the FVE FishMedPlus Coalition, which seeks to stimulate engagement in the development and authorisation of new medicines and vaccines for the aquaculture sector.

With 18 years’ experience in veterinary practice, industry and academia, Simon is well positioned to represent the varied veterinary roles and diversity of BVA members.

Commenting on his appointment as President of BVA, the UK’s largest representative body for vets, Simon said: “It is a real honour to have been charged with the presidency of BVA at a time when it is critical for the association to provide a strong voice for vets. We are a relatively small profession, but the association has a growing membership who are becoming increasingly engaged due to cross-cutting concerns around issues such as workforce capacity and capability. However, it’s also an exciting time when many vets are exploring the diversity of available career paths, novel working patterns and the opportunities afforded through leadership and innovation.”

Simon announced that the theme for his presidential year is One Veterinary Community, which builds upon past presidents John Fishwick and Gudrun Ravetz’s themes of ‘Team Vet – Working Together’ and ‘The Veterinary Family’, respectively. The theme encapsulates the crucial role of the veterinary profession at the regional, national and global levels and within One Health initiatives, and recognises the importance of continued collaboration with key stakeholders within the profession and with members of the wider animal health and welfare sector.

Simon lives in Ballygowan in County Down. Along with his other professional responsibilities, he is also an ambassador for the livestock development charity, Send a Cow, and a trustee of the Animal Welfare Foundation. Earlier this month, he was appointed a GlobalScot in the animal health and aquaculture sector by the Office of the First Minister in Scotland.