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Meet our BVA Northern Ireland Branch President

05 Apr 2024


BVA Northern Ireland Branch President Sharon Verner discusses her presidential theme and shares her plans for the year ahead.

Meet our BVA Northern Ireland Branch President Image

What made you decide to become a vet?

I’m from an agricultural background and had an interest in working with animals from an early age. At heart, I wanted to help people through caring for their animals.

What’s your veterinary background?

My primary background is working on livestock disease control programmes. Prior to joining Animal Health and Welfare NI (AHWNI) seven years ago, I worked in government veterinary service for 15 years. AHWNI is the industry body that works to coordinate control programmes for endemic diseases of livestock and my primary role is in managing the NI BVD Programme.

What is your vision for your new role as BVA Northern Ireland Branch President?

“Thriving together”

BVA-NI wants to continue to raise the profile of the veterinary profession in NI and to enhance the links between vets and the wider industry. In addition, my desire is to provide opportunities for the association and, most importantly, the individuals in it, to thrive. I believe that we were created to thrive through good friendships and good communities, so BVA-NI, in conjunction with the North of Ireland Veterinary Association, offers a unique space to thrive socially and where vets can keep up to date with and lobby on current affairs.

The issue of continued access to veterinary medicines has been a concern since Brexit and the fact that we are now 21 months away (December 2025) from the end of the grace period without a solution gives an indication of the perseverance that dealing with this issue has required. My vision for BVA-NI is to support those members who are highly involved in this ongoing process, to highlight the issue to those who will be affected and to lobby for a sensible outcome.

Bovine TB is a huge challenge in NI, due to the animal health and welfare impacts and the massive pressure it puts on farm families, pressure that is often felt by vets. If we can rekindle some hope through discussions around TB, the wildlife reservoir and also the future farming policy, I will count it to have been a worthwhile effort.

Finally, there is an evident need for new animal health and welfare legislation, for example regarding regulation of farriers, and our Branch hopes to engage with government in this area.

Quickfire Q&A

  • Discipline: Delivery and technical aspects of disease control programmes
  • University: Cambridge
  • Favourite animal: Sheep and also Digger the sheepdog collie
  • What’s an interesting fact about yourself? I spent my first 12 weeks at university having a non-weight bearing right leg (broken tibia and fibula), as a result of rounding up sheep at pace in a forest park (obviously pre-Digger).
  • What is your favourite BVA member benefit/ reason you’re a member? I’ve been a BVA member since graduating, and find that the excellent communications, both paper and digital, help keep me up to date with current veterinary issues.


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