I would like to start my year as President by thanking the out-going President, Chris House, for his immense amount of hard work and for the dedication with which he has guided BEVA during “his” year. BEVA owes a huge debt of gratitude to Chris, not only for his work this year but for all of his work on BEVA Council for the best part of a decade now.

During Chris’ year as President, BEVA worked frequently on welfare matters –an area of particular interest to Chris and something which is a core part of our mission statement. BEVA will continue to champion high standards of equine health and welfare in 2010, at a national level and also in collaboration with our sister equine veterinary organisations at an international level. Plans are underway to hold a pre-Congress welfare meeting in association with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in Birmingham in 2010. We are also developing plans for a BEVA- led meeting of international veterinary surgeons to address the problems surrounding the enforcement of the legislation which governs long distance transport of horses to slaughter across Europe. Deficiencies in the current legislation and failure to enforce existing legislation mean that the conditions under which horses are being transported to slaughter currently constitute the biggest welfare problem for equids in Europe. Veterinary Surgeons are better qualified than anyone to identify where welfare issues arise, and what needs to be done to correct them. By working with our sister equine veterinary organisations in Europe and beyond, BEVA hopes to make the voice of the veterinary profession clearly heard and to start to effect an improvement in conditions for the c100,000 horses being transported to slaughter each year.

Our interest in long distance transport to slaughter is but one example of the way in which BEVA is constantly working on the international stage. Another example would be the very active role which BEVA, led by Chris House, has played in responding to the recent FEI proposal to allow the use of some NSAIDs in competition. BEVA Council members frequently attend FVE and FEEVA meetings, ensuring that the voice of British equine vets is being heard in Europe, where many legislative decisions are nowadays made. We also continue to support WEVA in their quest to provide equine veterinary CPD to the developing world. In the year ahead, we will continue to forge collaborative links with sister organisations in Europe, North America and beyond.

In an age in which Government seems intent on diminishing the role of the professions, BEVA increasingly represents the equine veterinary profession’s desire to ensure that veterinarians, who are undoubtedly the people most qualified to advise on matters of welfare and disease control, are fully involved in informing policy. In January, for example, BEVA will hold a joint meeting with some of the welfare organisations at the House of Lords to brief peers and members on the adverse welfare implications of the government’s proposed responsibility and cost-sharing legislation.

The provision of post-graduate veterinary education is one of BEVA’s core commitments. Despite the global economic problems of 2009, BEVA CPD courses continued to be extremely well supported. In 2010, we will be running a wider range of courses then ever before – many are tried and tested favourites, others are new innovations, some of which have directly resulted from suggestions for courses made by members. BEVA Congress 2010 will be held in Birmingham, with the theme of “The Art and Science of Veterinary Medicine". The plenary lecture will be given by Dr Angus McKinnon, world renowned expert in equine reproduction, who will discuss the developments in assisted reproduction technologies during the last 20 years, from the advent of artificial insemination to cloning.

I am honoured to have been asked to act as President this year, and know already that I will be well supported and guided by Chris House as Past President, by Deidre Carson as President Elect, and by the wonderful BEVA office staff without whom we would be unable to function.