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PetPlan announces UK’s ‘top vet’ award

Photo of staff from Vet Surgery of the year, Millhouse Veterinary Surgery and Hospital, Norfolk with one of the judges Stephen Ware RCVS President, right, and host Dominic Holland

The nationwide search to find the UK’s most exceptional vet is over and the winner has been named as Simon Clarke from Ipswich, East Anglia. Simon beat over 250 nominations for the prestigious title awarded at a black tie ceremony at the Burlington Hotel, Birmingham on Thursday 3rd April. Simon was presented with the Petplan Veterinary Awards trophy by comedian Dominic Holland, as well as £1,000 in Virgin vouchers.

Over the past four months, Petplan, the UK’s largest animal insurer, has scoured the country to find the most exceptional veterinary professionals, including best vet nurse, best vet, best vet receptionist, and best vet practice. Now in their fourth year, these 'veterinary oscars' were judged by an independent panel of experts.

The winners are: Vet of the Year Simon Clarke of Highcliff Veterinary Practice in Ipswich, East Anglia Simon has run the Highcliff Veterinary Practice for over 20 years, recently being instrumental in the practice move, planning the new premises and modernisation to a fully computerised system. The new practice is now situated in a busy shopping centre and has over 3,000 clients. Always in demand for visits to local liveries and farms, he has an excellent rapport with all his clients, many of whom have been visiting the practice for many years.

With an excellent 'bedside' manner, Simon is as caring of his clients as he is of his patients, taking the time to fully explain his diagnosis, prognosis and proposed treatments. Simon always has time for his staff and clients, providing support, whether it's professional or personal.

Vet Nurse of the Year Diana Stanton of Battle Flatts Veterinary Clinic in Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire

Diana has been at the Battle Flatts Veterinary Clinic for many years, having started as a voluntary Saturday girl. Through her determination and persuasion, the clinic became a training centre and Diana qualified top of the class as a veterinary nurse in 1993.

As well as supervising trainees with their studies, Diana is currently studying for her Certificate in Nursing Exotics. She is a confident and inspiring influence in the practice, encouraging even the most junior nurses to take on roles that might usually be done by vets. Diana is so committed to her job that she gained a diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing whilst seven months pregnant.

Vet Receptionist of the Year Daphne Philpott of Vet Vaccination Clinic in Fishpond, Bristol For four years Daphne has proved to be a key member of staff. A constant source of good humour, she's a pillar of support to her colleagues, often in the face of the impossible. She never fails to ensure the smooth and general running of the surgery - carrying out many tasks at the same time - answering the telephone while loading the washing machine. When the senior vet was taken ill, Daphne quickly took control, ensuring the surgery ran smoothly for six weeks while he was absent.

As well as her role in the clinic, Daphne helps sick and disabled clients by collecting animals in need of treatment. She often delivers groceries and takes flowers to grieving owners - all in her own time. Daphne also has a full life outside work, devoting time to family, friends and gardening - and she's a senior citizen.


Vet Practice of the Year Mill House Veterinary Surgery and Hospital in King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Established in 1984 by Carole and David Clarke, the successful practice quickly outgrew its premises, relocating to its present site in 1990. Mill House has a dedicated and busy team of seven veterinary surgeons, eight qualified veterinary nurses (all trained at Mill House), five student nurses and six administration staff.

Mill House has won many awards - including the first veterinary practice in the UK to be awarded Investors in People and also the first practice outside North America to win the Practice of Excellence award run by the US journal, Veterinary Economics. The surgery's aim is to provide the best possible care and treatment for companion animals and their owners in a friendly and supportive environment.

Alison Andrew, communications manager of Petplan comments on the importance for Petplan of getting involved in the Awards, "The Petplan Veterinary Awards are so significant in the veterinary calendar, as they recognise the dedication and commitment of all involved in the veterinary profession. As this is a nationwide competition, any practice, vet, nurse or receptionist can be nominated, regardless of the size or location of their practice. Being part of the awards, Petplan is able to give something back to the veterinary profession."

Petplan was inundated with nominations from the public and overwhelmed by the response.

For every nomination received, Petplan gives money to Petsavers, the charity of the veterinary profession. Donations for 2003 will raise over £1,000 for the charity.