Inga Wolframm and dean Debbie Jaarsma with the Veterinary Fire. Photo: DUB

Veterinary Medicine kicks off lustrum with the arrival of the Veterinary Fire

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On foot, on inline skates, on a horse, on a bicycle and finally, with a horse and carriage. Since Animal Day (October 4) the Veterinary Fire has been traveling across the country, visiting alumni from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Its return, on Friday, December 10, marked the start of a festive year because the faculty was founded in Utrecht exactly 200 years ago.

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It was, of course, supposed to have been a big party with many guests, but as with so many parties, the lustrum of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is overshadowed by the pandemic. Still, the veterinarians are making the best of the situation. Most festive gatherings have been postponed to next spring, but December 10, the day Veterinary Medicine was founded back in 1821, is a day the faculty didn't just want to pass by.

The return of the Veterinary Fire kickstarts the lustrum celebrations. On Animal Day, celebrated on October 4, the journey of the torch – on which a battery light is supposed to act as the fire -- begins. Vice-dean Merel Langelaar handed the torch over to the first vet of the tour: Martijntje van der Veer. After a trip throughout the country, veterinarian Laura Oosterlo- van Hoof from Amsterfoort gave the torch back to dean Debbie Jaarsma after 61 days. The last meters were crossed by horse and carriage.

The vets of the

 De Berg clinic in Amersfoort hand the Veterinary Fire back to dean Debbie Jaarsma.

Graduates
The theme of the anniversary year is ‘together,’ and the torch tour fitted well with this, Inga Wolframm, head of fundraising and partnerships explains. "We wanted to celebrate the solidarity in veterinary medicine, something that we could use to unite the vets in all of the Netherlands while also giving the students of today the chance to meet the students of the past that are now working in veterinary clinics." In addition, the torch tour also raised money for Vrienden Diergeneeskunde, the charity of the faculty.

For the organisation, help of student association D.S.K. was called. Preses Babeth van Loon: "We have approached several clinics with the question whether they wanted to participate. About 45 clinics joined in. The vets had to bring the fire from one clinic to the other. But they were only allowed to do so in a non-motorised way, and we asked them to raise money for our charity."

Beer bike
The vets and their employees turned out to be quite resourceful in passing on the fire. "On the beer bike, through an estafette, on a horse, walking with a dog," Babeth says. "It also depended on the distance. Some clinics had to cover 50 kilometres.’ In addition, the clinics raised money for Vrienden Diergeneeskunde. ‘Some organised a bake sale, others organised a sponsored run, or donated."

With almost every handover, a student was present that was given a tour of the clinic, Babeth says. "Some clinics were far away, at the border or deep in the heart of Friesland. Students sometimes couldn’t bet here." The Veterinary Fire has visited almost all provinces. "Except Flevoland. In total, the torch has travelled about 1500 kilometres."

Innovative research
Wolframm is very happy with the campaign: "We’ve raised almost 17,000 euros and that’s wonderful. The gifts come from clients of the veterinary clinics, mostly small amounts of 5 or 10 euros. All those donations show that vets are appreciated, that they are there for the animal and the owner." To add to the festive joy, the faculty board has raised the amount to 20,000 euros. ‘This is their way of showing their appreciation for the effort of all the participants and the support of the vets. It’s the icing on the cake."

The money raised is going to be used for innovative projects, Wolframm informs. "With this wonderful amount we will be able to start research pilots, of which the results will lead to a larger research request. In veterinary medicine, research is very important, to make sure that diseases are even better treatable." Researchers of the faculty will soon be allowed to file a proposition. A commission which also consists of a student and a doctor from the clinic, will eventually grant the money.

In honour of the lustrum, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has launched a special website on which current and past stories are being published. The website also contains the lustrum programme.

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