World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers, who has spearheaded a series of initiatives to improve the lot of equines around the globe, has been honoured for his outstanding commitment to equine welfare.
Owers, who qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Cambridge University in 1992, has received the 2016 British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Welfare Award.
The award, sponsored by Blue Cross, is given annually as a formal recognition of significant contributions made by veterinary surgeons and others to equine welfare.
Now in its 16th year, the accolade was presented to Owers by BEVA president Mark Bowen, who acknowledged the many major initiatives promoted by Owers within the horse industry, most having a direct impact on animal welfare and disease prevention or control.
“He has used his position to develop programmes across the equine sector and has provided much-needed dispassionate and effective leadership,” Bowen said.
Blue Cross deputy chief executive Steve Goody said Owers had shown unstinting dedication to the cause of improving equine welfare both in Britain and overseas, and had led the way with many important initiatives.
Owers said: “I am over the moon to receive this award, although I do so with slightly mixed feelings as I really have only been doing my job with World Horse Welfare – a charity that I hold so dear.
“Whatever I have managed to achieve has only been possible thanks to the charity’s simply outstanding staff, volunteers and supporters.
“Without wishing to sound corny or clichéd, I am receiving this award on behalf of every single one of them who do such an extraordinary amount to help horses, donkeys and mules around the world through World Horse Welfare.”
Owers joined World Horse Welfare as chief executive in January 2008, having previously led the charity’s fundraising and communication teams from 1999 to 2003. After qualifying as a vet in 1992, he spent a short time with the Blue Cross before joining the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. His work included a posting as the veterinary officer at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in London.
As well as his role as World Horse Welfare chief executive, his contributions to the equestrian world include being a proactive member of the Steering Group for the Equine Sector Council for Health and Welfare, as well as being on the board of the European Horse Network, chairman of the Equine Disease Coalition, chairman of the Equine Working Group at Eurogroup for Animals, and BEVA honorary treasurer.
His achievements whilst at World Horse Welfare include establishing the Horse Crisis group of charities and successfully campaign for the Control of Horses Act; playing a direct role in facilitating changes to the Tripartite Agreement which controls the movement of horses between Ireland, the UK and France; developing guidelines for transporters on watering equines during travel and assessing their fitness for transport and the adoption by the OIE of standards for working equids.
Owers has ridden for much of his life, greatly enjoying eventing and team chasing. He rode for his university and says that a highlight was being part of the charity’s first Challenge Ride in Jordan, in 2001. He is married, with three children, and lives in Cambridge.