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Veterinary mental health champion Rosie Allister receives the BVA Chiron Award

17 Sep 2020


An Edinburgh-based vet who manages a free and confidential helpline offering mental health and wellbeing support to everyone in the veterinary profession has been announced as the recipient of BVA's prestigious Chiron Award.

Veterinary mental health champion Rosie Allister receives the BVA Chiron Award Image

Dr Rosie Allister was given the award in recognition of the special contribution she has made in the field of mental health and wellbeing support across the veterinary community.  For the last ten years she has managed the Vetlife helpline, overseeing the recruitment and training of volunteers and seeing calls to the helpline increase ten-fold.


After graduating from the University of Liverpool, Rosie worked as a veterinary surgeon in a variety of clinical practice and research settings. Her MSc and PhD at the University of Edinburgh looked at mental health, wellbeing and identity in veterinary students and veterinary surgeons and she lectures, trains, advises on policy, and writes about veterinary mental health and suicide prevention in the UK and internationally.


Rosie has volunteered for Samaritans for 15 years and is a volunteer vet at All4Paws charity vet clinic. In her spare time she enjoys trail running, and ran 100 marathons raising £18,000 for Samaritans and Vetlife. Rosie has previously been awarded the RCVS Impact Award for her work in veterinary mental health.


BVA’s Chiron Award is an acknowledgement of 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.


Rosie said: 


“It is an honour to receive the BVA Chiron Award. This award represents the hard work and compassion of so many people who have supported, inspired and worked alongside me over my career: the people who provide support to veterinary professionals, who take part in research to better understand veterinary professional mental health and suicide prevention, who challenge assumptions around inevitability of mental health problems and suicide, and, above all, who act to make things better.


“I would like to thank all those who, through their actions, have worked to make the veterinary professions more supportive, more inclusive and more diverse. By coming together as a profession, we can achieve so much.”


Reading out the citation for the award at a special virtual awards event today, outgoing BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said: “Rosie’s expertise and leadership have seen significant improvements to the way in which Vetlife Helpline volunteers are selected, trained, and quality controlled, along with the introduction of safe working systems which have human connection at the core.


“Her dedication to making a difference to the lives of others in the veterinary profession has been an inspiration to many, and I am thrilled that she is the recipient of this year’s Chiron Award.”


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