New joint president elected for NIVA and BVA Northern Ireland branch

New joint president elected for NIVA and BVA Northern Ireland branch

The North of Ireland Veterinary Association and the Northern Ireland Branch of BVA have jointly elected Fiona McFarland as their new President.

Fiona, who grew up on a sheep farm in County Antrim, has been an active council member of NIVA since 2014 including holding the role of press officer and  has also sat on BVA’s Members Services group and BVA Policy Committee as well as being a past President of the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS).

Having worked as a full-time locum vet since 2017, in late 2021 Fiona moved into industry as Account Manager for Ireland North for IMV Imaging. She is also one of the founders of the Young Vet Network in NI and and a volunteer with Vet Support, whose work had never been more valued than during the pandemic

Speaking following a joint virtual AGM, Fiona said: “It’s an absolute pleasure and honour to accept the joint position of President of NIVA and BVA NI Branch. I’ve been involved with both organisations for some years and am very grateful to have been able to learn from those who have been in this position in the past. I’ve benefited from both organisations throughout my career and it’s a privilege to be able to give something back to our members and the profession.

‘Steering into the new normal’

“My main aim for the year ahead is to steer our associations into the new normal we are faced with whilst continuing to navigate the pandemic. Accompanied by the effects of Brexit, Northern Ireland faces some difficult challenges, not only within the profession itself, but within the Agri-Food industry. My theme for the year will be sustainability: both that of the profession and workforce, but also how vets play a pivotal role in sustainable agriculture.

“I am focused on continuing to provide support to all our members and ensure we keep all channels of communication active and effective within our profession but most importantly within NIVA, BVA, government, industry and the farming community. We need to continue to stand together as one voice and look at the wider implications of everything we do as veterinarians. I aim to help shape changes in policy, build relationships and continue to have open conversations with each and every stakeholder wherever possible.”

Outgoing President Mark Little and new BVA NI Branch President Fiona McFarland

Fiona, who graduated from Bristol in 2004,  succeeds Mark Little as President of NIVA and the BVA Northern Ireland Branch. He will now move into the role of Senior Vice President of BVA’s NI Branch.

BVA President Justine Shotton congratulated her, saying: “It is such a pleasure to welcome Fiona into the role of President of both the BVA NI Branch and NIVA. Her years of experience within the veterinary profession and strong desire to make a difference make her an invaluable spokesperson for BVA and a real asset to the BVA team.

“It is vital that the veterinary profession has strong representatives in BVA’s branches and the NI branch will be essential in navigating potentially tricky months to come in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic. We look forward to working with her and know she will be able to build successfully on work from the last few years.”

The business part of the meeting being concluded, Fiona introduced the evening’s speaker  – Professor Michael Doherty, Dean of UCD Veterinary School, who provided an Educational Perspective on Future Challenges for the Veterinary Profession.

NIVA also expressed its gratitude to Boehringer Ingelheim for their ongoing support, and particularly sponsorship of this year’s NIVA AGM.