During the AGM at BVNA Congress 2023, we welcomed our officer team for the coming year, new Council members beginning their three-year term, and new BVNA President Lyndsay Hughes RVN. In this blog, we introduce Lyndsay, her aims for her presidential term, and also her selected BVNA Charity of the Year for 2023-4, Thin Blue Paw Foundation.

Currently one of the small animal Directors of a busy veterinary hospital in Wiltshire, Lyndsay started working in practice in 2002 and qualified as an RVN in 2013. Since then, she has worked in various first opinion practices in head nurse or management roles.

Her role means she is jointly responsible for all aspects of running the practice from streamlining processes, auditing, supporting staff development and best practice – as well as bringing a new perspective to the board of Directors as the only veterinary nurse within the directorship.

Within her first speech as BVNA President during the AGM, Lyndsay introduced her presidential theme of ‘Progression’. She said: “As veterinary nurses, we have continued to feel the impact of COVID-19 over the last year, but with further consequences. The increased number of animals taken on over lockdown, alongside a cost-of-living crisis, has made treating patients and supporting clients much harder and has taken its toll on teams. In addition to this, many of us are facing our own struggles as a result of the ongoing cost of living crisis, in a profession that is still considered to be poorly paid. There has been some progression with regards to salaries, but more needs to be done to recognise the part that veterinary nurse can play in supporting these changes and having a better overall understanding of workplace finances.

“As part of my 2020 manifesto, during my time on BVNA Council I wanted to highlight the need to have veterinary nurses in leadership roles. Nurses understand nurses, and as long as those in leadership roles have the appropriate training and support, then they can absolutely bring out the best in their team. The other key area of my manifesto was to look at the development of the team, ensuring that they are given the time and opportunity to be able to progress wherever their areas of interest lie. Within this, utilising team members in their roles – making the most of our qualifications as veterinary nurses, freeing up our vets to be able to undertake the tasks that we can’t, and offering our Patient Care Assistants the opportunity to develop and undertake more tasks.

“Progression will mean something different to each and every one of you. But for me, progression could be looking to move into a leadership role; it could be deciding to follow a specific area of interest – whether that be medical, surgical, education or research – the list is endless! It might be that within an area of the practice you want to look at developing a wound management protocol, or a physiotherapy programme for inpatients. You might want to develop nurse clinics or become a clinical coach.

“It is also about us as a veterinary nursing profession progressing. BVNA are continuing to work on protecting the title and we are being asked to attend and be part of lots of very important conversations. Our opinions very much count, and we are very much being heard.”

Lyndsay continued to introduce Thin Blue Paw Foundation, BVNA Charity of the Year for her presidential term: “Thin Blue Paw Foundation is a charity that financially supports retired police dogs. This is a charity very close to my heart as both my father, father-in-law and husband have all worked many years as serving police officers. I know directly from them the incredible work that these amazing dogs undertake on a daily basis, how through having them as teammates they have been protected and supported by them on many occasions.

“Thin Blue Paw protects, celebrates, and rehabilitates serving and retired police dogs. These dogs do not get financial support from the force that they have retired from. Given the role that these dogs undertake, they are unable to get pet insurance, and this can often mean that health conditions that develop throughout their lives, and often because of their active service, have to be covered by new owners or ex handler. Their work really does make a huge difference to the heroes that they support.”

During the AGM, BVNA also recognised outgoing President Charlotte Pace – now BVNA Senior Vice President. During her final speech as BVNA President, Charlotte said: “After a year of being in the presidential role, I reflect that not only have I been incredibly fortunate to have been given this once-in-a-lifetime experience, but also of how proud I am of the BVNA, its people, and what it stands for. The veterinary nursing profession needs a strong representative voice, and with all the work that goes on behind the scenes at BVNA, it has that.

“I am excited for the new BVNA officer and presidential team. Handing over to Lyndsay is both a privilege and honour. We came on to BVNA Council in the same year, and it has been wonderful to get to know her. She adds so many qualities to the role of President.”

During Charlotte’s presidential year, BVNA raised £1,887 for her selected Charity of the Year 2022-3, Vetlife. Charlotte added: “I am really proud that during my presidential year, the BVNA were able to raise such a fantastic amount for Vetlife. Vetlife do incredible work, and are there for veterinary professionals at any time of the day or night. During the year, we had the wonderful ‘Have a Heart’ week in February, in which Dr Rosie Allister gave two excellent webinars. At BVNA Congress in October, BVNA Council members and office staff completed the Telford Park Run wearing Vetlife T-Shirts to raise awareness, and then the gala dinner raffle was an amazing success, raising over £1,200. People were so generous, and for that, I will be forever grateful.”

BVNA Officer Team for 2023-4

  • President – Lyndsay Hughes RVN
  • Senior Vice President – Charlotte Pace RVN
  • Junior Vice President – Craig Tessyman RVN
  • Honorary Secretary – Kim Rathbone RVN
  • Honorary Treasurer – Sarah Holliday RVN

New BVNA Council Members

Full Council members:

  • Declan Jones RVN
  • Victoria Foulkes RVN
  • Cheryl Plimmer RVN

Student Council members:

  • Poppy Meredith SVN
  • Kate Davies SVN

We would finally like to thank the retiring members of BVNA Council for their tremendous contributions to both BVNA and the VN profession – Alex Taylor RVN, Macauly Gatenby RVN and Lacey Pitcher RVN.