Heroes of History

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Our Heroes of History initiative celebrates veterinarians who were active in the veterinary profession before they passed away. It has been developed to recognise the achievements of veterinarians who contributed positively to the profession - through their dedication and determination in their veterinary work.

The first inductees were announced as part of Centenary Week in November 2021. More AVA Heroes of History will be announced in future years and nominations remain open.

Dr Francis Christian (Chris) Baldock was a veterinarian epidemiologist, well-regarded for his leadership across a broad range of veterinary endeavours in Australia and internationally. In 1996, he established AusVet Animal Health Services with David Kennedy, based on their shared vision for the private sector to make a greater contribution to the changing environment of animal health services in Australia.

“Chris Baldock was an extraordinary and inspirational man, a mentor and an outstanding ambassador for the profession. He contributed vision, excellence and rigour to everything he did and was guided by strong values and an open-hearted nature which made him both admired and embraced by people from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures,” said colleague and current Ausvet Director, Dr Angus Cameron.

Dr Rowan Blogg was the founder of veterinary ophthalmology in Australia. A pioneer in his field, Dr Blogg left an indelible mark on the profession as the first veterinary specialist in Australia in any area. 

“He passionately promoted veterinary ophthalmology through teaching in Australia, and many of us currently in speciality practice are deeply indebted to him for his advice and novel ideas in the management of difficult cases. Rowan was a contributor, not a taker, and left this world a better place,” said Dr Jeff Smith from the Eye Clinic for Animals in New South Wales.

Professor Douglas Charles Blood, or “Prof. Blood” as he was affectionately known by many of his students, was the founder of the University of Melbourne’s modern veterinary school, an internationally-renowned author, and one of the foremost thinkers in the field of veterinary teaching.

“Professor Blood's impact on the veterinary profession is immeasurable, he along with Dr Studdert literally wrote the veterinary dictionary,” said AVA board member, Dr Meredith Flash.

Dr John Bourke was Equine Veterinarians Australia’s inaugural President and regarded by many as the 'founding father' of the organisation. He was a long-term member of the Australian Veterinary Association's (AVA) Victorian Division Committee and served as a generous mentor to generations of equine veterinarians. He was recognised with a Fellowship of the AVA in 1975 and received the greatest honour of his career in 1999, when he was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to equine veterinary science.

“Dr John Bourke was a pioneer in equine veterinary science, in particular its modernisation in thoroughbred racing. He was instrumental in founding what we now know as Equine Veterinarians Australia, one of the four category ‘A’ special interest groups of the AVA,” said AVA board member, Dr Meredith Flash.  

Sir William Ian Clunies Ross was born on 22 February 1899 in Bathurst, New South Wales, and is one of the key figures for science across any discipline in Australia.

As an eminent scientist, a founding researcher at CSIRO and public figure, Sir Ian Clunies Ross’s work has improved our understanding of host and parasite interactions, and advanced research in all aspects of sheep and wool production.

In 1973, when the Australian $50 banknote was first released, it celebrated the achievements of two Australian scientists, Nobel Prize winner Baron Florey and Clunies Ross. 

Dr Russell “Russ” Dickens was a familiar figure in Western Sydney, both for his work as a pioneering veterinarian and for his 36-year stint on the Blacktown City Council.

“Russell Dickens was my mentor, friend and confidant for most of my professional life. Russ was my first employer after graduation in 1976 and I was most fortunate in being good friends with him for the rest of his long life. He was an amazing role model for me and many others,” said Dr Robert Johnson.

Dr Helen Jones-Fairnie was born in 1944 and spent her formative years in Euroa, an idyllic childhood she later credited for her lifelong love of rural life. Dr Jones-Fairnie had never considered becoming a veterinarian. A last minute decision saw her applying for, and being accepted into, the University of Melbourne’s veterinary science degree in 1963.
 
She rose through the ranks to become the AVA’s first woman president, a position she held from 1982-1983. Through her research, her writing, her mentoring of women and her tireless advocacy for veterinarian wellbeing, Dr Helen Jones-Fairnie left a lasting legacy on the profession. She is remembered not only as an inspirational leader, but also as a kind, happy and generous woman.
 
“If you were to look up the definition of a woman of substance in the Oxford Dictionary, you would see a photo of Helen smiling back at you. Helen inspired me with her passion and support of the veterinary profession. I am privileged to have known her and could not be more proud to continue her legacy of work managing the AVA Wellness Stand”. Monika Cole

Hugh McLeod Gordon was born in 1909 in Armidale. A renowned veterinary scientist, he worked with Sir Ian Clunies-Ross at the McMasters Laboratory in Sydney, the start of a long and distinguished career in veterinary parasitology research. He split his time working at the CSIR/CSIRO with lecturing future veterinarians at University of Sydney.

‘Throughout his life, Hugh Gordon went beyond the call of duty in meeting the standards that he set for one’s obligations as a citizen. He will be missed, but always remembered. The Australian Sheep Veterinary Society has a scholarship in Hugh’s name for recent graduates of Australian Universities. This was first awarded in 1997 and will remain as a tribute to his contribution to veterinary science and the sheep industry.’ - John Plant.

Associate Professor David Hutchins, known to his staff and students simply as ‘Prof’, was a much-beloved educator and equine veterinarian. Prof Hutchins graduated from the University of Sydney with a BVSc in 1947 and went on to have a distinguished career as a true innovator and mentor to thousands of veterinary students, graduates and colleagues. 

“The real legacy left by ‘Prof’ was to the everyday student, with whom he generously shared his wisdom and knowledge. Even today when I meet with past students, they invariably express deep feelings of gratitude that they were there when the Prof was working at the coal face of equine practice at Camden, they see this as an incredible ‘gift’ that did much to mould and enhance their professional lives,” said Australian Veterinary Association board member, Dr Meredith Flash.

William Tyson Kendall was born in England and graduated from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1873. In 1880, en route to New Zealand, he instead decided to stay in Melbourne after discovering the city only had a total of four veterinary surgeons. He founded the first veterinary school in Victoria and was instrumental in establishing the veterinary profession in state

Dr Daria Nina Love was an Australian veterinary microbiologist and educator. Love graduated in 1969 with honours and was recognised with the University of Sydney Medal, becoming the first-ever female veterinary graduate to achieve such an honour. She was also the first-ever woman in the Faculty of Veterinary Science to be awarded a PhD and in 1988, she became the first woman in Australia to be awarded a Doctor of Veterinary Science.

A role model and mentor for many, Dr Love was a woman of stature and courage, for all through her life she fought various illnesses and adversity. It gave her resolve that was tempered with moral and intellectual integrity. This meant that she never lost her way in the practice of veterinary science. Yet for someone so focused, she always made time for others - be they colleagues, friends or strangers.

Victor Hans Menrath was born in New Zealand in 1942, but had to move to Australia to study to be come a vet as there was no veterinary schools in his native country. His love of cats led him to be the first Fellow in Feline Medicine in the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS) in 1978 and started the first feline only practice called The Cat Clinic.

“Vic was a true generous giant of the veterinary profession who cared passionately about his patients and their owners.” - Bob Menrath

Remembered forever as one of the founding fathers of Equine Veterinarians Australia, Dr Reg Pascoe was born in Toowoomba in 1929. Reg was a mentor, life coach and had an encyclopaedic clinical resource for the equine veterinary community. He worked tirelessly to advance the profession in general and the equine veterinarians in Australia specifically.

Dr Isabelle Bruce Reid, known to many as ‘Belle’, is widely regarded as the first formally recognised woman to qualify as a veterinary surgeon in the world. 

Dr Reid is acknowledged in the historical records of the Victorian RSPCA, Melbourne Lost Dogs' Home and the Animal Welfare League of Victoria, as having provided invaluable support in the early development of each service. In 1996, Reid's name was included in the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.

“Belle was a pioneer of women in veterinary science, a field that at the time was thought to be the sole domain of men. It is the determination and bravery of people like Reid that have shaped the veterinary profession as we know it,” said AVA board member, Dr Meredith Flash. 

Dr Herbert Robert Seddon was born in New Zealand and joined the Department of Agriculture in 1904 as a cadet. He was one of the founding fathers of the AVA and established the Veterinary School at the University of Queensland. He made innumerable contributions to veterinary science, both in and out of the classroom

Dr James Stewart was born in Windsor, New South Wales in 1869 and was a pioneer in veterinary education in Australia and New Zealand.

 In 1922, Dr Stewart became the President of the Australian Veterinary Association, helping to establish the 1923 Veterinary Surgeons Act. During his seasoned career, he acted as a representative for veterinary science for both the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society of New South Wales.

A lifelong love of horses was Dr Stewart’s inspiration for his work as a veterinary surgeon to the Australian Jockey Club from 1908 to 1953 and as the Founder and Director of the club's Apprentices' School, for which he served as an honorary instructor. 

Heroes of History Nomination

We are taking nominations for AVA's Heroes of History