NI Vet Nursing Awards 2014

Left to right: Hill’s NI & CI VN Territory Manager Susie Hill, Leanne McLeod, Emma Addy, Helen Gourley, President of the BVNA Kirstie Shield, Regional Co-ordinator NI VN awards Diane Young

The winners of the BVNA NI Veterinary Nursing Awards 2014 have now been announced. This year, some fantastic nominations resulted in a formidable task for judges deciding on the winners in each of the four categories. The event, supported by Hill’s Pet Nutrition is now in its seventh year and was initiated to help veterinary nurses receive wider recognition of their work. The quality of the nominations reflects growing appreciation of the tremendous efforts veterinary nurses put into caring for their patients and animals in the wider community. The winners are:

-Helen Gourley from Cedar Grove Veterinary Clinic in Belfast, NI Vet Nurse of the Year

-Emma Addy from the PDSA in Belfast, NI Charity Vet Nurse of the Year

-Leanne McLeod from Earlswood Veterinary Hospital in Belfast, NI Student Vet Nurse of the Year

-Ciara Wilson from St Elmo Veterinary Clinic in Londonderry, NI Animal Nursing Assistant of the Year

The winners will receive gift vouchers and trophies to recognise their outstanding contributions to the veterinary nursing profession.

Helen Gourley, NI Veterinary Nurse of the Year

Clients of Cedar Grove Veterinary Clinic describe Helen in glowing terms as ‘exceptionally dedicated’ and ‘an absolute asset to Cedar Grove’. One client who nominated her explains why she believes Helen deserves this award. ‘Over the past year, both my dogs have been receiving treatment for serious conditions and Helen has been a great support to me. She takes time to explain matters in layman’s terms which has helped me immensely at times when I have been tremendously worried about my dogs.’

She goes on to say ‘Helen’s love of the job and her dedication to helping animals is clear. She is a credit to Cedar Grove and it would be wonderful if she could receive some formal recognition for this’.

The BVNA NI Regional-Coordinator Paula Quinn RVN MBVNA says ‘Helen is the embodiment of what the veterinary nursing profession is all about. Her caring and compassionate nature is a shining example to the general public. She is dedicated to animal care and everyone at BVNA NI is proud to name her Veterinary Nurse of the Year.’

Emma Addy, NI Charity Veterinary Nurse of the Year

When it came to choosing the NI Charity Veterinary Nurse of the Year there was one nominee that really stood out. The judges described Emma’s nomination as ‘very moving’ and someone who is ‘clearly dedicated to animal welfare’. She was nominated by many colleagues, clients and pet owners for her efforts to help stray and feral animals.

Practice staff describe Emma as ‘a massive help and support’ to others and always ‘friendly and compassionate’ to both clients and animals. She has an amazing ability to ‘listen, comfort and take all the concerns owners have into consideration’.

An example of Emma’s work was a heart breaking case where she helped save two healthy cats from being put to sleep. Emma took time to talk to the owner, who was in difficult circumstances, and found that she really did not want to destroy her beloved cats but couldn’t afford to look after them. Emma contacted the Cats Protection and arranged placement for both cats, which not only saved their lives but saved the owner the harrowing guilt of putting down her pets that have now been given a second chance at life.

Another example was when Emma fought to save the life of an abandoned four month old Akita puppy she discovered in a hedge, almost at the point of death. She spent hours on the phone with the local council and Northern Ireland Akita Rescue who agreed if he could be saved they would find him a home. After undergoing major surgery and making a full recovery, Emma was able to find the puppy – now called Oreo – a new loving family to care for him.

A well-deserved recipient of NI Charity Veterinary Nurse of the Year, the judges had no doubt that Emma will continue to dedicate herself to the profession that she loves.

Leanne McLeod, NI Student Veterinary Nurse of the Year

Leanne was nominated by many of her colleagues who describe her as someone who ‘eats, sleeps and breathes animals’ and is always ‘fast, observant and attentive to the patients in her care’. Knowing your pet is in safe hands means a lot to a pet owner, so Leanne’s efforts to show that she cares are greatly appreciated. As one person put it ‘Leanne has a natural rapport with the animals in her care’.

In her spare time Leanne volunteers at a local animal sanctuary and helps the practice rehome unwanted dogs. In addition, she recently volunteered her free time to hand rear two adorable stray springer puppies and spent weeks of sleepless nights caring for them, before finding them a loving home. Leanne’s commitment to her profession and dedication to animals is both humbling and impressive.

Working in a busy referral practice like Earlswood can be demanding but colleagues say Leanne has adapted extremely well, being flexible with her time and always willing to help others. She is the worthy recipient of the Student Veterinary Nurse of the Year Award which colleagues say will give Leanne the ‘confidence to continue her studies and achieve her goal of becoming a Qualified Veterinary Nurse’.

Ciara Wilson, ANA of the Year

Having joined St Elmo’s Veterinary Clinic five years ago with no veterinary experience, Ciara completed her Animal Nursing Assistant (ANA) training at Greenmount Agricultural College and is now a vital member of the team at St Elmo’s. Ciara always impresses her colleagues, who say she has a real gift for ‘building great relationships with clients and animals and loves chatting to clients like old friends’.

Colleagues also describe Ciara as a ‘very loyal and sincere member of the team’ and someone all staff feel they can rely on when things get busy. Putting her hand to any task given her, Ciara is a ‘dedicated and hard working woman’ who always does her utmost to help anyone out. Ciara is involved in all aspects of the clinic, from providing assistance to the vets performing surgery, to reception duties and caring for inpatients; her breadth of experience and ability to adapt is second to none.

Ciara’s attention to patient care was singled out – her high standards of care in monitoring in-patients are highly valued by her colleagues. She is also praised for her administrative duties and making sure the practice never runs out of stationery!

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Hill’s NI & CI VN Territory Manager Susie Hill thanked everyone involved with the event and congratulated the winners, ‘Once again, I’ve been humbled by the efforts of veterinary nurses who care so passionately for their patients and animals across the community. Everyone at Hill’s is proud to be associated with this event and to support the veterinary community in Northern Ireland.’