Little elected as new president of NIVA and BVA NI branch

The Northern Ireland branch of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA) have jointly elected veterinary nutritionist, Mark Little as their new president.

Mark Little is technical manager at Trouw Nutrition Ireland, where he leads a team of nutritionists, giving multispecies on-farm advice for feed mills.

As well as becoming a 2019 scholar with the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust, Little has completed a PhD researching the nutritional influences on immunity in the transition dairy cow, with studies conducted at Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).

During a joint annual general meeting (AGM) that was held virtually on February 9, Little succeeded Susan Cunningham as president of BVA Northern Ireland branch.

Cunningham will now move onto the role of senior vice-president.

Little was also elected as the incoming 2021 president for NIVA. NIVA represents the collective voice of all sectors within the local veterinary profession which include practice, government, research, industry and academia.

‘It is an honour for me to accept’

On becoming president, Mark Little said:

“It is an honour for me to accept the joint position of NIVA and BVA NI branch president; two organisations with a proud past, and an exciting future.

“My theme for the year is about change. It is to understand the world around us and how it is rapidly changing so that we can also meet the changing demands we need adhere to as vets.

Farming is changing, technology is advancing, and consumers want different products. If we can understand the trends and what is changing, we can be ‘ahead of the curve’ and give our clients the best advice through strong leadership.

“The second change theme I’m going to concentrate on, is supporting us all through the changes in our life associated with Covid-19.

“This is about family, friends, and fellowship. I think of our members as a wider family, and want to increase communication to support them through these challenging and changing times.”

Congratulating Little, junior vice-president, Justine Shotton said:

“It is a real pleasure to welcome Mark as president of BVA Northern Ireland branch. His skills and experience within the veterinary profession and farm industry will make him a great spokesperson and asset to the extended BVA team.

The work of BVA’s branches is essential in representing the veterinary profession where animal health and welfare are devolved issues.

“The branch has contributed enormously to shaping policy in the last few years, particularly around Brexit, trade deals, and surveillance.

“I have no doubt that Mark will successfully lead on working closely with government, industry, the farming community, and our profession.”

Working background

Little originates from a dairy and beef farm in Co. Fermanagh and now lives near Hillsborough, Co. Down.

He qualified from University College Dublin (UCD) Veterinary College in 2002 and spent 10 years in large animal practice in Co. Tyrone and Co. Armagh.

During this time, he conducted herd health investigations, and completed the postgraduate certificate in dairy herd health from UCD.

He later worked for Zoetis as area veterinary manager for Northern Ireland before moving to AFBI in Hillsborough.

Little will be joined on the BVA Northern Ireland branch team by succeeding junior vice-president and fellow NIVA council member, Fiona McFarland.

McFarland qualified from Bristol University in 2004. Throughout the last few years, she has been working as a small animal locum practitioner in NI.

She has worked in over 35 practices in the region, but also brings farm animal clinical experience to the team.

She has been a previous member of both BVA Member Services Group (MSG, now MBC) and policy committees, co-founded the Young Vet Network in NI and is a volunteer for Vet Support NI, Ireland and Scotland.