For the third year in a row, BVNA have received more nominations than council seats available so we will once again be holding an election for 2019.

We had 9 nominees in total for full (RVN) seats for the coming term and with just three spaces available we would like you to meet this year's candidates.

Polls opened on 1 June 2019 for you to be able to have your say on who’s representing you!  Each full and student member has been sent an e-mail from BVNA with details on how to vote, check your inbox!  Polls close at noon on Friday 12 July.

We have also filled our two student places with the nominations we have received, you can find out more about your new Student Council Members here.

All candidates’ profiles and manifestos can be found below (listed alphabetically by surname):


Debbie Anslow RVN

My name is Debbie Anslow RVN B.Sc. (Hons) N.Cert. AnBehav. I am a registered Veterinary Nurse and have been working within small animal general practice almost 20 years. I am currently lead consulting nurse for my practice and run the nurse clinic facility which includes a complete behavioural medicine service. I am incredibly enthusiastic about the advancement of veterinary nurses through learning and professional development to encourage the preservation and progression of a profession of which I am exceptionally proud to play a part.

I have always had an interest in the emotive reasoning of the patients I care for and I am hugely motivated to ensure the emotional health of the patients within the veterinary healthcare sector. I am passionate about the role that veterinary nurses can play in veterinary behavioural medicine both from a preventative perspective along with providing education to improve the availability of behavioural first aid in practice. I champion “fear free” practice and aspire to help lead the growing movement towards standardising this within the veterinary sector. In general terms I feel the fear free approach should involve the entire veterinary workforce from work experience and students, admin and reception staff through to management alongside the full clinical team.

I feel that by enabling veterinary nurses to drive these areas of the business sector it will not only provide greater job satisfaction and autonomy in our duties but ultimately increase renumeration which is well overdue. In turn I believe this will allow greater professional respect and therefore an overall increase in the mental health of our hardworking and impassioned profession.

Samantha Payne RVN

Over 16 years of nursing I have worked in different roles, with many different nurses. This experience has led me to see the RVN role solidify and change drastically over time. I want to see this continued growth and awareness of our profession going forward. My role as a consulting nurse has seen my job satisfaction increase and I wish everyone to experience this same feeling.

Improved responsibility for nurses and job satisfaction. More awareness across the profession on skills of nurses and abilities that can be achieved with the right support

I aim to help by:

  • Working with veterinary organisations on promoting and developing new roles
  • Developing new and refreshing CPD courses
  • Role profiles in blogs showing the development and progress which can be achieved
  • Continue current work done with RCVS on developing and promoting nursing roles
  • Push for change on Schedule 3 procedures and more clarification on the amendment as a whole.
  • Better training for practice staff on abilities of nurses to ensure potential is achieved and developed

My vision for the future is to create a safe space in practice and teaching institutions. From the registered nurse, to students and paraprofessionals. I want to achieve better mental health awareness in practice for all staff.

I will work to achieve my goals by:

  • Working to improve diversity training for teaching staff and course syllabus updates on equality and diversity
  • Mental health support network for all staff including working with groups on care package systems
  • Promoting mental health awareness profiles via blogs and stories from members of the profession
  • Aim to have BVNA and other veterinary organisations set up on the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme and improved work policies
  • Working with BV LGBT on an affiliation scheme that practices can sign up to pledging they are an LGBT friendly practice

Sophie Puzey RVN

In 2015 wanting a career change after 10 years working as a Polo groom nursing seemed a very natural progression. I qualified in 2018 after 3 busy years training in a Hospital in Somerset.

After qualifying I started work as a surgery and neuro nurse at a referral practice. I really enjoy surgical nursing and anaesthesia and I’m currently working towards Nursing Certificate in Surgical Nursing which I will complete this year.

I currently believe that we are in one of the most exciting times to be nursing with so much access to advancing our skills and education. I would really like be part of representing nursing and helping to find ways that we can carry on educating and advancing our nursing careers.

Jack Pye RVN

Iʼm Jack Pye, I became a RVN in November 2018, and currently work in a veterinary hospital in Norfolk working predominantly OOH doing emergency and critical care which I really enjoy!  I love all aspects of being a veterinary nurse and have an avid interest in exotics especially Chelonia.

Iʼve decided to run for BVNA Council this year because Iʼd love to make a positive impact in the progression of our profession and Iʼm aware of the daily challenges a vet nurse faces. Iʼm frequently being asked if Iʼm going to be a vet as Iʼm Male and Iʼm keen to challenge this and help highlight the idea that veterinary nursing is a profession for all and a rewarding one at that too!

Iʼm also keen to promote that veterinary nurses are a role in their own right as the general public only see a tip of the iceberg of what we carry out.

I also know the challenges people face in getting their foot in the door to train as a veterinary nurse, although I only qualified in 2018, Iʼve been involved in veterinary practice for 7 years now and always tell people to persevere and follow their dreams! The proudest day of my life was finding out Iʼd reached my goal of RVN status.

Iʼd love to have the chance to represent you all with fresh ideas and an immense passion for being an RVN.

So Iʼd like to take this moment to ask for your support to vote for me to represent our fabulous profession and help the wheel of progression carry on moving forward along with the great work BVNA has already achieved!


Helen Russell RVN

My name is Helen Russell and I am Joint Venture Partner and Senior Registered Veterinary Nurse at Vets4Pets Byfleet.

I’ve been in the veterinary profession since 1998 and I became an RVN 2004. Over the years I have worked in many veterinary practices ranging from Referral to Emergency and Critical Care. I also had the pleasure to work for an exotics hospital in Dubai working with Falcons, Parrots, reptiles, Lions and Cheetahs.

I was also a volunteer at The UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Reading for 5 years, I worked my way up to full handler of The Beenham Pack as well as the Arctic Park (who were the first Arctic Wolves to come to The UK).

In 2015, I gained my City and Guilds Certificate in Veterinary Nursing Emergency and Critical Care.

For the last 2 years I was a co-editor for The VN Times and I wrote and had published 4 articles

I am immensely proud of the VN Profession and how far it has come since 1998 and I want to see nurses making the most out of their qualifications and be the nurses they trained to be.

I am involved in many committees within Vets4Pets but externally, I am also involved with The VN Futures (an initiative between BVNA and The RCVS)

As a JVP and RVN, I want to inspire nurses to be the best they can be and improve the standards across the entire profession.

 Lucy Toombs RVN

My name is Lucy Toombs and I'm a registered veterinary nurse from Kent. I studied at the Royal Veterinary College, Middlesex University and The College of Animal Welfare gaining my BSc (Hons) in 2011. Since qualifying, I have worked at Montgomery Veterinary Clinic near Ashford, Kent where we treat pretty much anything! I have a keen interest in exotic veterinary nursing, completing my City and Guilds nursing of exotic species in 2017. I am also a clinical coach and have worked in all areas of practice life, currently filling the role of Head Nurse. I and my practice had the privilege of being filmed for UKTV's “Inside the Vets” last year which is something I'm immensely proud of.

Aside from work, you'll often find me at my aerial hoop class trying to perfect the latest move!

If I am elected to council, there are several things I would like to achieve. Firstly, I would like to help raise the profession into the public's awareness as I believe we will only be able to protect the title “Veterinary Nurse” when the general public know who we are and what we do. Second, as exotic animals are a passion of mine, I would like to become an advocate for them and create more of an awareness for their welfare through educating fellow veterinary professionals on pain management, husbandry and welfare needs which can then be passed onto clients in practice. Finally, I want to be a voice for those within the profession who feel their voices aren't heard and encourage them to step forward and be the change they want to see in the profession.


Helen Tottey RVN

Since joining the veterinary profession as a ‘Saturday Girl’ then an SVN to qualifying as an RVN, I have enjoyed (and still do) a varied career. I have worked in practice including doing OOH, setting up nurse consultations, moving to industry as a ‘rep’ then returning to practice by setting up and running; and 5 years later, selling, my own vet practice. Currently I have a training role helping other members of the veterinary team in practice develop various skills required in this more consumer led age of veterinary medicine. 

Why am I telling you this? Well, I really believe now is a great time to be a member of our profession. While there are challenges, there are also a lot of opportunities for RVNs both inside a vet practice and out. The support for collaboration as a #onevetteam has never been so vocal with the main veterinary associations all speaking out on the importance of Veterinary Nursing. We should be encouraged by this but at the same time not purely rely on others and ensure we as individuals are doing all we can to support our profession as well as helping BVNA to speak up for what we want via regularly engaging with our representative organisation. We have an opportunity to shape the next chapter of veterinary nursing to ensure it is a career that not only enables us to promote animal health and welfare but also one that inspires others to choose a Veterinary Nursing career. Because of my varied experience over the years, I believe as a member of BVNA Council I can bring valuable insights to help keep our profession moving in the direction that benefits you, the member and the various animals, pets and their owners, we all work on behalf of.

Cathy Woodlands RVN

From a young age I have always wanted a career in veterinary medicine and for the past 10 years I have been working as a registered veterinary nurse. During this time I have witnessed many changes in the veterinary profession including the movement towards evidence based veterinary nursing and recognition of the role veterinary nurses play within practice. Working in a referral centre has allowed me to develop more advanced nursing skills and schedule 3 procedures. My practice also has a first opinion team alongside which enables me to keep up to date on the challenges of nursing not only in a referral team but the first opinion side as well. I feel this gives me a wider view of the profession and the challenges and goals it faces on a daily basis. Throughout my career I have been a member of various committees helping with a variety of projects including training, student support, CPD to patient safety.

I am standing for a place on the BVNA council because I am passionate about the profession and to provide veterinary nurses with the opportunity to be the focus and have a voice in the ever changing veterinary profession.  Our role within practice and the wider community is so varied, rewarding and challenging but as a profession if we work together we can reach the goals we wish to achieve as a worldwide team. We can successfully bring about making veterinary nursing not only a recognised profession in its own right but one that provides continual support, guidance, knowledge and aspirations to us all.  It’s vitally important that we have a voice that guides the profession and I will listen to the views and ideas of everyone if I am elected.


Matthew Wright RVN

I have been around veterinary nursing for several years, originally working a small animal practice as a teenager, not knowing what I wanted to do with my career. I left there to study an unrelated course. A couple of years into the course I found my attention and passion was zero. Not knowing what to do at this point, I searched on the internet “working with animals”. For my local area first on the list was a degree course in veterinary nursing. This made sense to me, why had no one helped guide me to the profession before, even though I had worked in vets for several years.

I hope that with time I can be the inspiration or role model. To help anyone in that position be guided to a role with animals. Not just nursing but any very fulfilling role working with animals.

Since training and qualifying I have never lost the passion for my job and title. Over time my original passions have changed and moved into a direction I did not predict. I have found myself becoming more active on social media, hoping to inspire and educate with in the profession. Social media for me brought the nursing profession closer, we share ideas, we support each other on those bad days. I would like to see us all use this vital platform more, reaching out to all our fellow nurses.

This led me to realise that as all things change, often for the better, but sometimes not. The veterinary profession used to be a big part of the community and everyone knew the local vet and practice. This has changed, vets may not have the time for this “pillar” of the community anymore. But I see this as an opportunity, why not as nurses can we not fill this space!



Voting closes at noon on Friday 12 July 2019