Yet again this year COVID played havoc with the best-laid plans and NIVA held its second successive Virtual AGM on Wednesday 9th February.
Outgoing President Mark Little welcomed a pleasingly large crowd and summarised the variety of NIVA’s activities for the year – providing input to a plethora of consultations, engaging with issues affecting animal welfare and the interests of the profession, providing representation and support for members, raising money for local charities (£1470 for Vet Support NI and almost £3000 for Air Ambulance NI), and seeking out creative hybrid ways to provide CPD, craic and convivial company when circumstances allowed. Mark thanked all those who had helped him in achieving his aims for a phenomenally busy year (members, sponsors, Council, the officer team, his family and the tireless team at VetNI), before handing over the reins and the very impressive NIVA Chain to new President Fiona McFarland.
Fiona graduated from Bristol in 2004 and started her career in farm practice in Somerset before returning to NI in 2011 to work in Earlswood Veterinary Hospital, where the legendary Des Thompson first encouraged her to become involved with NIVA Council. Fiona has an enormous amount of experience to bring to the twin roles of NIVA and BVA(NI) President. In addition to years on NIVA Council she has served on BVA Policy Committee, been instrumental in setting up Young Vet Network and Vet Support NI, and worked as a locum in over 45 practices in Northern Ireland before taking up her current role in industry as Account Manager Ireland North for IMV Imaging.
Fiona is looking forward to a busy year as we (hopefully) emerge from the pandemic and get to grips with Brexit, workforce issues, climate change and sustainability. She will be ably assisted by Mark, who continues as SVP, and Esther Skelly-Smith, whose election as JVP was ratified by the membership. Susan Cunningham was elected as Public Relations Officer, and Seamus O’Kane and Rachel Davies continue as Treasurer and Secretary respectively. Council members Sean Rooney, Kirsten Dunbar, William Sherrard, Lara Wilson and Ed Taylor are stepping down this year, and were thanked for their hard work. New Council members Aoife Ferris, Patricia Van Veen, Ruth Moreno, Roisin Dickinson, Sharon Verner, Orla McAlister, and an impressive 59 new ordinary members were ratified by the membership and welcomed.
The business part of the meeting being concluded, Fiona introduced the evening’s speaker – Professor Michael Doherty, Dean of UCD Veterinary School, who provided an Educational Perspective on Future Challenges for the Veterinary Profession.
NIVA is extremely grateful to Boehringer Ingelheim for their ongoing support, and particularly sponsorship of this year’s NIVA AGM.