The Polly Birch Award


Why this award?

Polly Birch graduated from The University of Liverpool Veterinary School in 2009. She was a truly conscientious vet, and though she struggled at times to find what she really wanted out of her professional life, her patients always came first. In 2016 she was diagnosed with a melanoma. It was removed and within a few months she fell pregnant, giving birth to a beautiful girl, Ada, in May 2017. Tragically, only weeks later, at a routine checkup, she was given the terrible news that she had developed metastases from the original melanoma, affecting both her abdominal organs and her brain. Despite this news Polly faced life and this momentous challenge head on. She exuded the positive approach to life which her numerous friends had become used to and we all believed her when she insisted she would beat it.

Although she is no longer with us the strength of her love for her friends and family and the wellbeing of the environment lives on in all those who knew her. Polly’s parting mantra was to “look after the bees”, a plea to look after those most vulnerable but responsible for such beauty.

We feel there will be so much left undone because of her absence and this award is to recognise those who contribute to our society and serve our planet in the way she would have.

Left to right: Polly’s brother Ed, her father Richard, Cal and Tom Bury

Left to right: Polly’s brother Ed, her father Richard, Cal and Tom Bury

What is it?

This award has been put together to recognise people within the veterinary community that have engendered the spirit of Polly in the work that they do. Nominees should show passion, commitment, empathy in the work they do and be contributing in at least one the following fields:

  1. Contribution to a community

    - Bringing together of a group or supporting otherwise disparate members
    - Putting others before themselves, acts of selflessness and a caring attitude

  2. Positive impact on the environment
     - Highlighting or furthering a cause leading to its advancement
    - Personal commitment for the benefit of environment

The inaugural winner…

Cal Major for her incredible efforts with Paddle Against Plastic

I was alerted to Cal’s fundraising by a mutual university friend Sarah Brown, who sadly passed away last year, many years too young. Sarah spoke with incredible pride of Cal’s efforts, working as a young vet and still making the time to bring about environmental awareness and to inspire others. If Sarah was here today, I think she would nominate Cal, so in her absence I will make the nomination instead. What an inspirational woman! #paddleagainstplastic Annette Levey

Watch this moving memory of her at VSGD LIVE! by one of her best friends Tom Bury and her brother Ed and her father Richard. Three deserved nominees are showcased- Cal Major, Danny Chambers and Jane Davidson.

2019 shortlist

Greg Dickens

Raising awareness and sharing passions for bugs. Completing his weekend of non stop exercise to raise over £5k for RSPB and Buglife charities. Sharing fabulous photographic pictures and details of some of the amazing invertebrates in our world. He's 100% reignited my passion for small things. Liz Barton

Merryn Wyme

Merryn created the Facebook group Zero Waste Veterinary to bring together veterinary professionals to bring together those within the industry wishing to do more to contribute to a environmentally conscious practice within the industry. She operates as a locum nurse taking her ideology with her into various practices to plant the seed of environmental well being in as many places as she can! She shares ideas and encourages conversation on her page to allow for open and educational discussions to take place. She is really an inspiration to be in my practice as a nurse to continually question if I can be doing more to contribute. Jennie Reid

Paul Verney

Paul is a brilliant vet who built up a practice focused on caring for both large and small patients, whilst also creating a supportive work environment nurturing staff and providing a wonderful atmosphere. Nothing is ever too much trouble. He is an ambassador for ‘Send a Cow’, working closely with communities in Africa to encourage sustainable farming which provides a livelihood to families in need. In October this year Paul will be travelling on a self funded trip to Zambia to strengthen the link with some of these communities. Closer to home he has built and demonstrated the benefits of a keyhole garden, an initiative growing in Africa thanks to work done by Paul and fellow ambassadors of Send a Cow. This environmentally friendly, space saving raised garden is a sustainable way to produce your own food that maintains itself, minimises water wastage and provides a compost for your food waste, putting these nutrients back into the soil environment. Paul is an incredibly selfless individual. In all he does, including a recent cycle from Lands End to John O Groats to raise money for charity, he does so for the good of others and the environment. He would be so surprised to receive such an award, but I believe he is so very deserving of it. Charlotte Verney

Each shortlisted nominee will receive a beautiful print from vet and artist  Emily Sherlock

Each shortlisted nominee will receive a beautiful print from vet and artist Emily Sherlock

Join us at Wellvet weekend for the award presentation on the 7th of September 2019 at Girton College Cambridge. A HUGE thank you to the Wellvet team, Polly’s family, Carolyne Crowe, Emily Sherlock and Cal Major