A Ballymoney vet who recently celebrated 50 years in the profession has been honoured with prestigious award for his hugely influential and supportive role in the lives of so many veterinary surgeons at times when they have needed help most.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has announced the winners of its four prestigious veterinary achievement awards at its annual Members’ Day, held this year at Clare College, University of Cambridge.
The annual awards recognise the exceptional commitment, work and achievements of vets from across the profession.
David McKeown, a vet from Ballymoney, Co. Antrim who recently celebrated 50 years in the profession, was presented with the Chiron Award today in recognition of his work to support veterinary professionals with their mental health and wellbeing.
The Chiron Award acknowledges lifetime achievements in veterinary science or outstanding services to the profession and is judged as being of a standard that commands international or inter-professional recognition.
After graduating from Glasgow in 1972, McKeown established Knockanboy Veterinary Clinic in North Antrim in 1975 and spent the first 25 years of his career predominantly as a farm vet in a 6-vet mixed practice in partnership with his fellow Glasgow graduate Liam Kearney.
His time in practice overlapped with what followed as a second career – a 31-year-stint in the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS).
He has been an enthusiastic volunteer with both Vetlife and the Samaritans for 14 years and now divides his time between a management role with the Samaritans, his volunteering with Vetlife and a volunteer role with VetSupport.
His interest in mental health matters within the profession emanated from seeing at first hand the impact on colleagues of claims and complaints during his time at VDS.
Through his vital work, McKeown has been at the centre of providing reassurance and care for those in crisis, providing guidance with complete integrity and confidentiality.
He said: “Having just celebrated 50 years as a vet, the news about this award left me speechless. I thought it was a prank call – I’m so glad I answered!
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think anything I have done would lead to receiving this amazing and prestigious award.
“I am humbled by BVA’s recognition and as a consequence the sense of optimism and enthusiasm which tends to perhaps define me has just been turbocharged.”
Outgoing BVA president Justine Shotton said:
“Congratulations to all five winners. These highly sought-after awards shine a well-deserved light on an exceptional group of veterinary professionals, who each in their own field and practice, have helped propel the veterinary profession forward.
“Congratulations to you all on behalf of everyone at BVA.”