Lecturer at Wales’ new Vet School wins top award

Dr Gwen Rees, Aberystwyth University

Dr Gwen Rees, Aberystwyth University

14 June 2021

A lecturer at Wales’ new veterinary school at Aberystwyth University has won an award for making a significant impact on the profession.

Dr Gwenllïan Rees has won the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Impact Award for her involvement in the Arwain Vet Cymru project, a collaborative national antimicrobial stewardship program for all farm vets in Wales.

The Impact Award is bestowed upon a vet who is running a project that has a significant impact on the profession at large, animal health or welfare, or public health.

Dr Rees is a newly-appointed lecturer in Veterinary Science at Aberystwyth University. Her area of expertise is antibiotic resistance, especially studying farmers’ and vets’ behaviour in prescribing medicines to farm animals.

She was appointed to the team of staff establishing Wales’ first Veterinary School. The first students will start their studies on the brand new course in September this year.

Dr Rees was born in the Netherlands, and raised in Pum Heol, Carmarthenshire. She qualified as a vet from Liverpool University, has worked for several years in rural farm and equine practice in Wales and New Zealand and she gained her PhD from Bristol University.

Reacting to her award, Dr Rees commented:

“I am absolutely delighted that the pioneering work of Arwain Vet Cymru has been recognised by the RCVS in this way. It’s been a challenging year for everyone, and I’m so proud to have been able to work with a great team of collaborators from Iechyd Da, Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers and University of Bristol. Above all, I’m grateful for the hard work and commitment of our network of excellent Welsh Veterinary Prescribing Champions for making the project such a success.”

Speaking about the new Veterinary School at Aberystwyth University, she added:

“Since I was a young girl who wanted to be a vet, I have strongly believed that Wales needs a Vet School. I’m very proud to be part of establishing the school and very much look forward to receiving the first students to Aberystwyth in September. I will be teaching vet students a variety of subjects including animal husbandry and professional studies. I am also responsible for Welsh-medium support, widening participation and school outreach, research into antibiotic resistance and looking after teaching on the University’s farms.”

“I hope to help Aberystwyth University to establish a Veterinary School which trains excellent vets who can use their skills to improve the health and wellbeing of people and animals, in Wales and more widely.”

Dr Rees was nominated for her award by Robert Edward Smith MRCVS, a farm animal veterinary surgeon working in Abergavenny in South East Wales. In his nomination, he said:

“Gwen has trained a network of Veterinary Prescribing Champions (VPCs) across Wales who will promote responsible medicine use and introduce antimicrobial stewardship policies into their practices, translating into real, practical, on-farm change.”

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University added:

“Many congratulations to Dr Rees on her success and on this well-deserved recognition of her work.

“Agriculture is such an important part in the Welsh economy and it is incumbent on us as universities to provide the people and the skills that will contribute to ensuring they thrive for years to come. The new School of Veterinary Science adds a vitally important new piece to the jigsaw, one that will build resilience in the rural economy through education and research at a time of great potential change and challenges.”

“I’m very grateful to Dr Rees and everyone else who has contributed to realising the dream of a school of veterinary science in Wales.”

Arwain Vet Cymru is a Wales-wide project to promote the responsible use of antibiotics in the cattle and sheep livestock sectors. Inspired by the success of this Welsh scheme, a similar UK-wide initiative called Farm Vet Champions is about to be launched.