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UKs ‘Top Vet’ announced at national veterinary awards

The annual ‘Oscars of the Veterinary World’ took place last Thursday night, drawing to a close the four month search for Britain’s best veterinary professionals.

The glittering ceremony of the Petplan Veterinary Awards took place at the Botanical Gardens, Birmingham on Thursday 7th April 2005 where top entertainer and Guardian columnist, Guy Browning announced the winners.

Sue Lucas, of the Lucas Vet Centre in Bristol walked away triumphant after being named Petplan Vet of the Year. Sue beat over 250 nominations for this prestigious accolade, and also won £1,000 in Virgin vouchers for her achievement.

Sue, 55, has been a vet for over 27 years. She has been at the Bristol practice since her husband first founded it in 1985 and took over when he sadly passed away 14 years ago. Since then she has built up a very successful practice which has quadrupled in size. With approximately 15,000 clients now on her books, Sue’s clinic offers a whole range of traditional and alternative treatments with specialists in dermatology, osteopathy and behaviourism available.

The Blue Cross Animal Hospital in London was named Petplan Practice of the Year. Established in 1999 and opened by HRH The Queen Mother, the Blue Cross Animal Hospital has more than 15,000 registered clients. Many people are unable to afford private veterinary clinics so they rely on the Blue Cross Animal Hospital even more than most pet owners. Last year the team of veterinary surgeons performed an impressive 16,000 treatments - an average of seven surgical procedures a day! Over and above providing regular veterinary treatment, Blue Cross rehomes abandoned animals and a community vet nurse visits housebound clients unable to make the trip to the surgery.


Twenty-eight year old Rachel Smith of Vets4Pets in Durham won the title of Petplan Vet Nurse of the Year. Rachel has been qualified for seven years, and shortly after joining Vets4Pets in March 2003, was made a partner of the practice. Often working beyond her scheduled hours, one customer describes Rachel as, "…a truly dedicated nurse. Her knowledge of the clients and their pets is excellent and her utter professionalism is obvious from the first time you meet her." As well as looking after her five year old daughter, Rachel finds time for her two horses, five dogs, four cats, and a ring-necked Parakeet.

Piet Johnston, of Elands Vet Clinic in Sevenoaks, walked away with the title of Petplan Vet Receptionist of the Year. Piet, 51, originally joined Elands Veterinary Clinic to cover maternity leave but, soon proving her ability, she was asked to join the team permanently. With colleagues and clients singing her praises, Piet was promoted in just over a year to Head Receptionist and Practice Manager. As well as her reception duties she goes the extra mile by being a great listener and always being willing to help others – to the extent that she’s earned the nickname ‘Auntie Piet’! Piet’s love for animals also extends outside the clinic and she has been fostering animals for the RSPCA for five years. During this time she has had around 120 animals through her home including litters of kittens, puppies and a nest of Blackbird chicks

Fiona Pinkney, communications manager of Petplan comments "The awards are an important date in the veterinary calendar as they are designed to recognise and commend all of those in the profession for their endless commitment and dedication. All four winners are highly deserving. Each showed great compassion and a readiness to go that extra mile to help pets and their owners in troubled times. Their kindness has touched many people."

Now in their sixth year, The Petplan Veterinary Awards have become an institution within the industry, giving something back to those who care for pets and their owners.

Furthermore, for every nomination received, Petplan donates £1 to the charity, Petsavers. Over £1000 was raised last year which will help fund research into illnesses and injuries that commonly affect our pets.