On Monday 1 September The College of Animal Welfare held an evening reception in the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons to celebrate its 25th Anniversary.
With over 140 guests, the special evening brought together employers, current and former staff, partner organisations and friends of the College to celebrate achievements since its inception in 1989.
The evening began with a welcome speech by host, Jonathan Djanogly, Member of Parliament for Huntingdon. Mr Djanogly thanked those who had supported the College throughout the years and wished the College the best of luck for the future as it continues to grow from strength to strength.
An overview of the College history was then provided by Barbara Cooper, Principal of The College of Animal Welfare (and founding manager). Barbara began by welcoming guests including staff from veterinary practices, former and current colleagues from partner organisations, leading veterinary and animal welfare associations and long-standing suppliers to the Colleges; all of whom had supported the College over the years.
Special thanks was given to Graham and Moya Fuller who were presented with a beautiful lead crystal decanter and a bouquet of flowers. Mr Fuller OBE, former Chief Executive Officer of Wood Green Animal Shelters, was instrumental in setting up the College in 1989 as he believed that education was the key to tackling animal welfare and the problem of unwanted animals. The College is indebted to him for his support in establishing an education centre which was later to become The College of Animal Welfare when the concept was new and unproven.
Barbara then fondly recalled the early days of the College, remembering the first ever course the College ran – an animal warden course. The course was held above a local pub as the College building had not been finished in time. She then went on to tell the amusing story of how a person had been in contact some years later to ask for a copy of his certificate and his recollection of the pub was sufficient proof of his attendance to be sent a duplicate copy!
In 1996, as the need for expansion became apparent, the College separated from Wood Green and became an independent not-for-profit organisation in its own right. Support from partner organisations including the Royal Veterinary College and Huntingdonshire Regional College assisted with the success of the new challenges the College faced. Later on that year the College opened centres in Leeds and Potters Bar, and two years later in Edinburgh.
The College has also achieved a number of significant firsts including the first ever degree in veterinary nursing which is still going strong under a partnership with Middlesex University. Another first includes running the pilot for the original animal care NVQs and the writing of a number of nationally recognised qualifications in partnership with City and Guilds that many other colleges now also offer across the country.
Over the years, the College has grown, developed and diversified but has never lost its animal welfare roots. It continues to work closely with leading animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA, PDSA and the Blue Cross. Indeed, new online courses have been created with the RSPCA that are saving considerable sums in training costs, freeing up valuable financial and staff resources that enable them to focus on their main animal welfare work.
Looking forward to the next 25 years, Barbara outlined the College’s plans to expand its international business. The College already has students from over 20 different countries that either come to the UK to study or study online through the College’s distance learning school. The use of technology will allow the College to deliver online programmes to a global audience thereby bringing full circle the original founding vision for the College to contribute towards the improvement of animal welfare through education and training to a wider audience as possible.