Pet insurer Petplan has announced the finalists for the 2014 edition of its Veterinary Awards.

The awards – held in association with Vetsonline’s print publication Veterinary Times – aim to  provide an opportunity for both pet owners and members of the profession to reward veterinary staff for their hard work and dedication.

Now in their 15th year, the awards received more than 12,000 nominations for 2014 – the highest amount yet. The entries were whittled down by a panel including BVA president Robin Hargreaves, BVNA president Kirstie Shield and RCVS president Neil Smith.

Making the final cut in the Vet of the Year category were Hector Low of the Old Mill Veterinary Practice, Isle of Lewis, Jade Lowe of Pilgrims Veterinary Practice in Hampshire, and Sue Lo of the Livingston branch of Companion Care.

Mr Low, whose practice is the only one on his island, said he was “completely gobsmacked” when contacted by Petplan and struggled to comprehend he was a finalist.

“I thought somebody was winding me up, I really did,” he said. “I might have sounded a bit rude [when told by Petplan] but I really did think it was someone taking the Michael.”

Miss Lo, whose interests include medicine and surgery as well as small furries, said she was “slightly chuffed” and “quite flattered and honoured” by the news, as well as feeling “appreciated” by her clients.

Over in the Vet Nurse of the Year category, the top three were unveiled as Kristy Buss from Total Pet Care in Surrey, Tina Wright from Warbeck House Veterinary Centre in Merseyside and Victoria Hall from Nute Veterinary Surgery in Cornwall.

Miss Hall, who started as a student VN at 16, said it was “really exciting” to even be nominated.

I love the job and get so excited by the different cases we see. I have the the same enthusiasm now as I did on the day I started,” she said.

Over in the Practice of the Year category, finalist positions have gone to Cathcart and Winn Veterinary Clinic and Hospital in Surrey, S P A Veterinary Services in Gloucestershire and The Vets’ Place in Cheshire.

Nick Winn, principal of Cathcart and Winn, said he and the staff were “surprised and very pleased” by the news.

“[We’re] very delighted about it, yes,” he said. “It’s still a mystery to us [about who nominated the practice], but obviously we’re very grateful to them and we’re very proud of the whole team,” he said.

Elsewhere at the awards, the finalists in Practice Support Staff of the Year were revealed to be:

  • Anthony West from Aylsham Vets in Norfolk
  • Henrietta Fidler from Beech House Veterinary Centre in Surrey; and
  • Joyce Durbin from Highcroft Veterinary Group in Bristol. 

Rounding out the categories, finalists for the Practice Manager of the Year award are:

  • Chris Gudge from Highcroft Veterinary Group in Bristol
  • Niki Burton from Eastcott Veterinary Hospital in Wiltshire; and
  • Sharon Lane-Kieltyka from Shepton Veterinary Group in Somerset.

The winners of the awards will be unveiled at a ceremony on April 2 at Birmingham Town Hall. Broadcaster and ex-MP Gyles Brandreth returns as host to oversee proceedings.

For a fuller article by Rebecca Hubbard, including more reaction from the finalists, see this week’s Veterinary Times (Vol 44 No 13).

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