The VN Futures project is powered by the RCVS and BVNA. A VN Futures Action Group has been established to take the project forward, with the aim of delivering an action plan at the Vet Futures Summit on 4 July.

The Action Group includes a mix of individuals involved in the training, representation, regulation, employment and management of veterinary nurses, as follows:

  • Helen Ballantyne RN RVN
  • Liz Cox RVN, VNC Chair
  • Julie Dugmore RVN, RCVS Head of Veterinary Nursing
  • Sue Gregory MRCVS, Professor of Veterinary Nursing, Royal Veterinary College
  • Daniel Hogan RVN, Vet Futures VN lead
  • Sam Morgan RVN, BVNA President
  • Nimisha Patel RVN, BVNA student representative
  • Renay Rickard RVN, President of VPMA
  • Marie Rippingale REVN, VNC member
  • Stephanie Writer-Davies MRCVS, President of SPVS


VN Futures Action Group member biographies


Helen Ballantyne RN RVN

Helen Ballantyne

After graduating with a degree in Pharmacology in 2002, Helen qualified as an RVN in 2005. Combining her passion for veterinary nursing and travel, she began a six-year stint as a locum veterinary nurse working nationally and internationally in a variety of settings.

Helen spent five years on BVNA Council, most recently in the role of Editor in Chief of the Veterinary Nursing Journal.

In September 2013, Helen qualified as a human-centred nurse and now works at Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which is the largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital in the UK.

After two years working in intensive care, she has recently moved to the transplant continuing care team where she helps to care for patients post-transplant. She is also part of the organ retrieval team, who are on call to attend hospitals across the UK to facilitate the collection of organs from deceased donors.

Helen is really enjoying her change in career, although her passion for veterinary nursing remains. She has developed a strong interest in the idea of sharing medicine, applying concepts used by medical staff to the veterinary profession and vice versa. Her family and friends take delight in asking ‘Is it humans or animals today?’ as she goes to work…


Liz Cox RVN, VNC Chair

Liz Cox

Liz Cox is currently employed as a senior nurse responsible for nurse training at Golden Valley Veterinary Hospital, near Bristol.

Since qualifying in 1991, she has gained experience of a wide range of nursing roles, from single-handed practices to large veterinary hospitals, working for both private and corporate veterinary surgeries, and as a locum for the University of Bristol.

While enjoying all aspects of the nursing role her main interest lies with nurse training. She became an assessor for the NVQ and an RCVS nursing examiner in 2000. Now, as a clinical coach, she still takes great pride in being part of the transformation of newly-enrolled students into a fully-fledged veterinary nurses, and watching their careers develop.

In addition, after achieving the City & Guilds Certificate in Small Animal Nutrition, Liz has a particular interest in obesity management and client education

Liz took up the role of VN Council Chair at RCVS Day on 10 July 2015, having previously been its Vice-Chair. She was elected to VN Council in 2011, and re-elected last year.

She is a member of the RCVS Standards Committee, which takes responsibility for the Code of Professional Conduct and its supporting guidance, and the Practice Standards Group. She is also a member of the British Veterinary Nursing Association.

Liz lives in Weston Super Mare with her husband, two children and a collection of the obligatory rescue pets that come with being a veterinary nurse!


Julie Dugmore RVN, RCVS Head of Veterinary Nursing

Julie Dugmore

Julie qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1987, after spending her training years in small animal practice in the West Midlands, and then progressed to a head nurse position where she became responsible for training student nurses.

Julie’s enthusiasm for encouraging and supporting student training led her to take a teaching position with a private training provider where she gained considerable knowledge and experience of the UK educational systems and processes.

Since leaving full time practice in 2000, she has kept her clinical skills up to date in veterinary practice.

Julie’s position with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has been varied; she started as an external verifier, quality-assuring student veterinary nurse training programmes, and progressed through the ranks to become the Head of the Veterinary Nursing Department.

Julie is responsible for eight members of staff who work to support the Veterinary Nurses Council in the College’s regulatory remit.

Julie Chairs the Accreditation Committee for Veterinary Nurse Education (ACOVENE), is a Board member of the Veterinary European Transnational Network for Nursing Education and Training (Vetnnet) and has, over the past ten years, been involved with several Leonardo da Vinci European funded projects developing veterinary nurse training across the European Union.

Julie lives in Northampton with her husband and son; and, as one would expect, a menagerie of animals.


Sue Gregory MRCVS, Professor of Veterinary Nursing, Royal Veterinary College

Sue GregorySue is Professor of Veterinary Nursing at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) where she is responsible for overseeing the development and delivery of the FdSc and BSc in veterinary nursing and Graduate Diploma in professional and clinical veterinary nursing.

She is a veterinary surgeon who graduated from the RVC 1985 and has spent most of her career working in several of the UK veterinary schools, both as a clinician and teacher.

She has a fairly unique perspective on both veterinary nursing and veterinary medicine training and has acted as an external examiner for both VN and Vet Med courses at different higher education institutions. Her team was responsible for the first veterinary nursing course in higher education in Hong Kong, which gave her an international perspective and promoted the UK veterinary nursing profession in Asia.

Sue is currently secretary for the Herts and Beds Veterinary Society.


Daniel Hogan RVN, Vet Futures VN lead

Daniel Hogan

Daniel is Operations Manager at Dick White Referrals and a practising RVN. Daniel began his career as a Saturday receptionist at a small clinic and became a veterinary nurse in 2007, moving on to become Head Nurse at a large 24-hour veterinary hospital in East London.

Daniel holds the A1/V1 Clinical Coach qualifications, Level 3 in British Sign Language and is currently completing a Chartered Management Institute Level 7 qualification in Strategic Leadership. Daniel works across HR, strategy and development, facilities management, health and safety and leadership.



Sam Morgan RVN, BVNA President

Sam Morgan

Sam is currently president of the BVNA and also one of the directors at Abbeydale Vetlink Veterinary Training, a private training provider for the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.

Sam qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 1999 and has worked both veterinary referral practice and first opinion.

Between 2003 and 2008, Sam gained both the Medical and Surgical Diplomas in Advanced Veterinary Nursing and holds an Examiner’s Certificate for the RCVS. In 2004, she gained her assessors qualification and in 2010 was awarded her Professional Certificate in Education (Cert Ed). Previously to joining BVNA council in 2010, Sam was also the South Wales regional coordinator for the BVNA organising local CPD events.


Nimisha Patel RVN, BVNA student representative

nimisha_patelNimisha has recently graduated from the University of Bristol, and originally hails from Manchester.

Previously she worked for Langford Veterinary Services and now she works for the Highcroft Veterinary Group in Bristol.

Nimisha joined the BVNA in October 2015 and has since been working on the British Association of Veterinary Nursing Students (BAVNS).

She has two three-year old cats, Luna and Astra.



Renay Rickard RVN, President of VPMA

Renay Rickard

Renay is the practice manager of the recently merged Kernow Veterinary Group, a multi-centred mixed practice in mid-Cornwall, which employs a team of approximately 90 people and is now the largest independent practice in Cornwall.

She started at the practice in 1985 as a YTS trainee, qualifying as a veterinary nurse in 1989. Renay progressed through the ranks to Head Nurse, before becoming Practice Manager in 2004. She has been a VPMA member since 1996 and gained her CVPM in 2010. She has also worked in the past for Duchy College in Cornwall as part of the veterinary nursing team as a course moderator and clinical coach trainer.

A passion for veterinary nursing has now been replaced with an equal passion for all aspects of practice management and the daily challenges it provides. Renay particularly enjoys the training and development of the veterinary team – especially watching the career progression of veterinary nurses.

In January 2016 Renay became President of VPMA  and she is also the VPMA Regional Co-ordinator and Cornwall Regional Organiser.

In her personal life, she likes to spend as much time as possible enjoying the fantastic place that is Cornwall, particularly the beaches and cliff paths, with the occasional horse ride out onto the moors. Renay also enjoys attending music festivals with her two daughters, although now they are both teenagers they are finding this less “cool”!


Marie Rippingale REVN, VNC member

Marie Rippingale

Marie graduated from The Nottingham Trent University in 2005 with a First Class Honours Degree in Equine Sports Science. During her degree, Marie completed a year’s placement as an equine veterinary nurse at Scarsdale Vets and has worked there since 2003.

Marie qualified as an EVN with merit in 2007 and was promoted to Head Equine Nurse in the same year. She went on to qualify as an A1 Assessor in 2008 and a G-SQP in 2009. Marie is now a Clinical Coach and trains the equine veterinary nursing students at Scarsdale.

In 2012, Marie completed the Diploma in Higher Education Clinical Veterinary Nursing (Dip HE CVN) with distinction. In February 2012, she obtained the RCVS Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing (DipAVN) in equine context, with distinction.

Marie has been lecturing on the Veterinary Nursing Diploma course at Bottle Green Training in Melbourne since 2010 and runs the final year at the course at Scarsdale for the equine students.

Marie has had articles published in a number of veterinary journals including The Veterinary Nurse and Veterinary Practice. Her special interests include foal nursing, radiography, anaesthesia and thrombophlebitis and intravenous catheter care.


Stephanie Writer-Davies MRCVS, President of SPVS

Stephanie Writer Davies

Stephanie graduated from Bristol University in 1984 and spent the first four years of her professional life in mixed practice, before deciding to concentrate on small animal work in 1988.

Stephanie worked as an assistant in a busy 3.5-person practice in North London before moving to Hertfordshire to take up a position as senior vet in charge of a recently established practice, where she worked in a predominantly sole-charge capacity.

In 1999, with no prospect of partnership where she was working and having always intended to become more actively involved in the business of running a veterinary surgery, Stephanie decided to set up her own practice in Welwyn Village.

Since then Mimram Veterinary Centre has grown to a successful 3.5 FTE vet RCVS Practice Standards Accredited General Practice, and is also a veterinary nurse training practice.

Stephanie is a member of British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and SPVS and has served as a SPVS Councillor since 2010, during which time she was the SPVS representative on the RCVS Awarding Body Board.

Having held the roles of Hon Public Relations Officer and Hon Editor, Stephanie became Hon SPVS President in January 2016. She was involved with the development of some of the new RCVS Practice Standards Scheme modules and has acted for the College as an Expert Witness in Disciplinary Cases.