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UCLan vet visits Holyrood Palace to receive OBE from Princess Anne

Posted on - 27th January, 2022 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Education, People, Preston News, UCLan, Wildlife and Conservation
Dr Heather Bacon OBE speaking to Princess Anne

A UCLan vet surgeon has attended Holyrood Palace to accept an OBE after landing a place in the Queen’s 2020 New Year Honours list.

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Princess Anne awarded Dr Heather Bacon, an integral member of the University of Central Lancashire’s new School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr Bacon accepted her insignia from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in Edinburgh after being recognised in the New Year Honours list for her services to veterinary education, animal welfare and charity work in the UK and abroad.

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Dr Heather Bacon OBE receiving her award from the Princess Royal

The Veterinary Clinical Senior Lecturer said: “It was a very proud day for me, and it was so surreal.

“It had all the formal pomp and ceremony you would expect, and there were rules I had to follow with military precision timing.

“I only found out shortly before the ceremony that I had to do a small curtsey on arriving in front of Princess Anne and then one as I was leaving, so if I’d have known beforehand, I would have practised!

“I was nervous, but I winged it with my little dip, and thankfully I was fine.”

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Dr Heather Bacon OBE talking to Princess Anne

Heather kicked off her day with a pre-ceremony brunch with her family.

Her proud father, Cliff, joined her inside the palace for the brief ceremony, and they capped off the day with a family dinner and drinks.

The veterinary surgeon graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2003 with an intercalated honours degree in conservation medicine – then from the University of Bristol in 2005 with a veterinary degree.

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She then moved to Kent to work in a vet practice, and two years later moved overseas, working with gorillas and primates in Rwanda and Ethiopia working with donkeys, dogs and cats.

Her passion for improving animal welfare overseas took Heather to China, where she worked with her favourite animal, bears.

In her role as Veterinary Director at Animals Asia, she treated bears who had been kept in cages and injured while having their bile extracted for use in traditional medicine.

While in China, she achieved her postgraduate certificate in zoological medicine in 2009, and she helped the charity set up a sanctuary in Vietnam.

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During her time there, Heather also organised and delivered workshops and training in animal welfare, veterinary practice and ethics across many Asian countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Heather said: “Princess Anne is very knowledgeable about the world of animals, veterinary care and training, so we spoke for around two to three minutes.

“I talked about my work with animal charities overseas, and I explained I was now part of the team setting up the first Veterinary School in Lancashire at UCLan’s Preston Campus.

“She was very interested to know a new vet school is opening.”

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In 2011, Heather returned to the UK with her two rescue dogs, Matilda and Mothi.

She became the founding international education and outreach manager at the University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education.

The Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, who also has a rescue cat named Talitha, said: “I feel lucky to be recognised with this OBE.

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“I feel like I’ve got imposter syndrome because I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many incredible people throughout my career.

“The people I’ve met and collaborated with at home and across the world are doing so many wonderful things to help improve animal care and welfare, so I feel this award acknowledges and recognises their hard work too.”

She also contributes to the British Veterinary Association, Federation of Vets of Europe and World Small Animal Veterinary Association and is a Defra-certified zoo inspector.

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In May 2021, the award-winning vet joined UCLan, helping to develop Lancashire’s first veterinary school.

The newly created vet school is only the 11th in England and will welcome its first students to bioveterinary science undergraduate and foundation entry courses in September 2022.

Further courses, including the prestigious veterinary medicine and surgery five-year degree, will commence in September 2023.

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Based at UCLan’s Preston Campus, the school will deliver foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses in veterinary medicine, bioveterinary science, veterinary clinical practice, veterinary physiotherapy and rehabilitation, and clinical animal behaviour and training.

The university is collaborating with Myerscough College and local veterinary partners to deliver programmes of study.

Heather said: “I’ve always liked being there from the start and being part of the team which develops the curriculum, facilities or research projects.

“It’s stressful setting up something so big, but it’s also exciting. With the support of colleagues across the university, I’m confident it will be a huge success.”

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A talk about the development of the school will take place on Wednesday 26 January at 6.00pm at Myerscough’s Bowland Suite.

To reserve a place, visit – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/veterinary-education-for-the-next-generation-tickets-241110386657

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