Meet our new BSAVA President, Julian Hoad

21 June 2024

Yesterday (20th June), at our annual AGM, we welcomed our new President for 2024-2025, Julian Hoad! Julian takes over from outgoing President, Carl Gorman, who will now move into our Senior Vice President position. We spoke to Julian to find out a little bit more about what he plans to do during his Presidency over the coming year.

What’s your journey been as a volunteer so far?

As a student, I was lucky enough to attend Congress (in those days you didn’t have to stipulate that it was BSAVA Congress – although we are still the biggest Small Animal Veterinary Congress, in the UK). I loved it: it was a great way to learn new things, discuss cases with friends, meet new colleagues and find out about new medications, treatments and equipment. It was magical and still never fails to reinvigorate my love and enthusiasm for the veterinary profession. I started volunteering on the Surrey and Sussex region (now Southeastern) pretty much as soon as I qualified. We were a very enthusiastic bunch, organising CPD events in the region and doing occasional fund-raising events for BSAVA PetSavers. I’m not quite sure how (I suspect it was because I took too long up at the bar, getting the round in), but I suddenly found that I was chair of the region. I enjoyed this position, as it brought me further into the BSAVA ‘fold’ and onto Council. I could get a glimpse into the workings of the Association and got a chance to meet some amazing people who were (and still are!) clearly completely out of my league professionally. I won’t mention any names, as it will embarrass some and disappoint others! It was also when I started to get to know the Staff at Woodrow House: what an incredible team – all so incredibly knowledgeable and almost pathologically helpful!

From Surrey and Sussex, I was nudged into Education committee (by the BSAVA’s resident ‘nudger’ Carole Haile, who heads up the Volunteer Development Committee). If it wasn’t for Carole’s tireless efforts, dedication to BSAVA and recognition of people who may have a spark of volunteer ability, I think BSAVA volunteers would be very thin on the ground indeed! After a few interesting years on the Education committee (my main responsibility was to analyse the feedback forms, and help with the development of new courses and nationwide CPD events), I moved onto BSAVA PetSavers Grants Awarding Committee. This was a fascinating role: we would sift through all of the research grant applications and apply various algorithms to them to try to decide which projects to support. It was a privilege to see the inventiveness of members of our profession, and to witness the incredible achievements made by practitioners and clinicians in practice, in referral centres and in universities.

Next was Publications, briefly on the committee then as Chair. It was amazing to see the amount of work that goes into every step of publication of all BSAVA’s missives – from Client information leaflets (CILs), through to our World-renowned Manuals. Being on the Publications committee involved determining where gaps in the market lay, and which Manuals were due for updating. Publications works very closely with Scientific Committee, to ensure that everything BSAVA publishes is peer-reviewed and up-to-date.

And now I find myself on Board. I started as Junior Vice President two years ago and have steadily been learning the ropes in readiness for my year as BSAVA President. Following the footsteps of Carl Gorman, and Alison Speakman prior to that, is a very daunting task, and I am very pleased to have an extremely able team around me on Board – with Amanda Stranack as our CEO, Steve Spill (our NED, who expertly provides the voice of non-vet reason), and the other members of the Board, the leadership team at Woodrow House, the amazing staff and volunteers who all have a say in Our BSAVA.

What about your day job?

I was at Crossways Vets for 17 years – a three branch first opinion practice in West Sussex – initially as a partner, then as an owner, and finally as a Clinical Director, after I sold the Practice to Independent Vet Care (now IVCE). In order to be able to devote my time to the BSAVA, I have stepped down from the practice (although I will certainly ‘keep my hand in’ with occasional locum jobs and peripatetic ultrasonography and surgery during the year).

I love being a vet: it provides my daily dose of adventure, stress, delight, and mystery in one handy 12 hour shift. I have been lucky enough to work with some incredible vets and nurses (not to mention some amazing Practice Managers, receptionists and others!); it is the support of that sort of team – and the supporting of them – that makes our profession the caring, uplifting and rewarding job it can be. Conversely, it is the lack of this support in some practices that can lead to isolation, increased stress, and the worst possible outcomes for some of our colleagues. Practice should be enjoyable, and we should look forward to going to work every day.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I climb, kayak, and ski; I play tennis really badly and I love swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Fortunately, my family enjoy most of these things too! My wife and I are keen gardeners; although Sylvia is much more precise at weeding and pruning: I just like attacking the garden with chain saws and hedge trimmers! I also enjoy trying to learn different languages; a task that seems to get more difficult every year.

About twice a year, I don various costumes and take part in whatever our local amateur dramatics group is putting on. My early years were spent doing drama classes and having auditions; I think my mother was quite upset when I became a vet, rather than an actor. However, my occasional forays onto the stage indulge my Thespian tendencies!

What do you have planned for your presidential year?

Started by past President, Alison Speakman, and continued by our present President, Carl Gorman, BSAVA is undergoing a programme of change that will continue to promote the strong sense of community within the membership and, indeed, the wider profession. Our members look to us to provide the best possible continuing education; improving our delivery of that in a more bespoke manner is a major part of BSAVA’s ongoing mission. I would like BSAVA to be the main focal hub for small animal veterinary knowledge; to be there for the veterinary community to help everyone’s learning journey; to allow everyone in the profession to feel the support that will help us all to enjoy going to work every day.