Congratulations to all our 2019 finalists and winners

“The winners have done themselves proud. It’s been hard work but was a pleasure for the judges to meet and talk about some great candidates. In some categories, there were very fine margins between the winners and those shortlisted. Congratulations to all the winners.”
John Lewis
Chair of Judges
“Congratulations to all our winners. Now in their third year, the National SQP Awards have highlighted the breadth and depth of talent, drive and ambition among animal health advisers. It was a pleasure to recognise the winners, but also all of those shortlisted, which, in itself, is a great achievement.”
Simon King
OvertheCounter Editor
2019 winners stories

National SQP of the Year

Dawn Prime, Wherry Vets

“Dawn demonstrates a complete understanding of the role of an SQP”

Dawn Prime is a senior animal care assistant at Wherry Vets, a veterinary practice on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. She started working at the practice in 2004 as an assistant animal care assistant, and since becoming an EA-SQP in 2014, she has gone on to achieve both the R-SQP qualification and reached Gold Standard SQP status in 2018. Dawn said: “To win the Veterinary Practice SQP of the Year award was fantastic, but I couldn’t believe it when my name was called as winner of the National SQP of the Year title. “I was really pleased for myself and for the practice as well. I think we are an extremely good practice and there are no other award-winning SQPs in the area, which gives us a USP.” By her own admission, despite now winning the National SQP of the Year for the second time – the first time was in 2016 – Dawn said that she lacks confidence in her abilities. She said: “Having the judges recognise that I am doing well meant an awful lot to me. The industry means a lot to me.” 

Dawn refers to herself as an animal health advisor and she backs AMTRA’s moves establish a new name for SQPs – she favours the shortlisted title of Registered Animal Health Advisor, which she described as a “wonderful term”. On the challenges facing SQPs, Dawn conceded that clients want to speak to the vet instead and she gets frustrated by customers that don’t understand the qualifications she has and the study that SQPs have to do to retain those credentials. Dawn said: “I find it hard when I explain flea or worm treatments or hygiene and they look at me like I’m talking a load of nonsense. “It’s annoying when clients don’t want to listen to what I’m saying. I am trying to change clients’ mindset.” Dawn said that as she decided whether to study to become an SQP, the practice’s dispensary manager, Caroline Guthrie, was always helpful, and she may yet take a veterinary dispensary management course, run by Harper Adams University. “Dispensing is where I’d like to head long-term,” she said. “It’s where I’m comfortable – and I won’t get bitten!” One thing that is certain, however, is Dawn’s commitment and passion to the SQP qualification. “I worked far too hard and for far too many years to get the qualification, I’m not going to let it fall away – I like to think that I’m good at what I do.”

2019 winners stories

Companion Animal SQP the Year

Nikki Harris, TFM Countrystore

 “Nikki goes above and beyond to make sure the welfare of the animal comes first”

Nikki Harris is a director of TFM Countrystore, a family-run independent store in Whisby, near Lincoln, and said being named Companion SQP of the Year meant a lot to her. Nikki said: “I tend to focus more on the companion side of the business, than on the equine side, and it was nice to get recognition for what I’ve done on that.” She said her qualification in dog nutrition – Canine Health & Nutrition (level 3) from the British College of Canine Studies – has helped bring customers to the store through word of mouth. “Dogs have various ailments and we can often help,” Nikki said. “That goes hand-in-hand with the SQP qualification. “When customers come in and say something is wrong, we can’t diagnose a dog, but it often leads on to a conversation about nutrition as part and parcel of the dog’s health and wellbeing. We often find that the owner thinks that their dog needs worming when it’s actually on some pretty dire food.” 

Nikki said that the store’s dog product sales have doubled in the last year and a result of the advice that she gives and her knowledge, the store will take “low quality brands” off the shelf and add more grain-free, high-quality brands. “We’ve already got a grainfree aisle, but I think we’ll end up with a second grain-free aisle because that’s the way the market’s going and that’s what our customers want,” she said. Nikki said that the business struggles to work with local vets and highlighted that most of the vet practices in the Lincoln area are owned by one big company. She said: “Vets are good at the prescription side, but not necessarily so good at asking the common sense questions – a change in dog food can work wonders. It might not resolve the issue totally, but it can improve it to the point that medication can be reduced.” 

Raw food continues to be a big seller for the business – and the 17 freezers on the shopfloor are testament to that. “We, probably, have about 10 raw suppliers, but from one, we have three-quarters of a tonne delivered every week,” she said. “We struggle for freezer space and we’re now known, regionally, as the place to go for raw dog food.” Looking ahead, Nikki said she may undertake training on cat nutrition. Alex Bradley, an SQP also working at TFM Countrystore, has also just started Canine Health & Nutrition (level 3), which is a two-year course. Nikki said: “With my knowledge, I did the course in nine months, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex is the same. “She’s as passionate, if not more passionate, about it than I am, and I think she already knows more than I do – she’s that keen and hungry to learn.”

2019 winners stories

Equine SQP the Year

Kristy Hodgson, Westgate Laboratories

“Kristy is on the front line, delivering training and overseeing Westgate’s in-house team of SQPs”

Kristy Hodgson, the Equine SQP of the Year, is director of operations at Northumberland-based Westgate Labs. She started working for the business in 2009 as a part-time lab technician and qualified as an E-SQP the following year. She said: “I was thrilled to be nominated for an award at the National SQP Awards; even when I was at the awards ceremony, I didn’t expect to win, but it was like the cherry on the cake. “I love doing what I do, and I am passionate about equine health and helping customers. Everything about what we do at Westgate Labs is about educating horse owners to use evidence-based control and target the wormers they give to horses.” 

Kristy runs the laboratory, talking to customers by phone, email and Facebook, and spends the majority of her day giving advice to customers, retailers, fellow SQPs and members of the public about using targeted worming programmes. Kristy’s down to earth approach and easy manner helps customers to look at motivators beyond price point to encourage them to do what is best for the horse’s health, the environment and the bigger picture of anthelmintic resistance. She said: “Customers are, rightly, very concerned about their individual animals, but the subject of drug resistance is the real black cloud over the entire industry. Finding ways to help people understand this, to give the right wormer at the right time and to test for resistance is one of our key concerns. “One such consideration is to save moxidectin use for the winter dose, unless there is a good reason to use it at other times of year and another is encouraging owners of young horses to incorporate fenbendazole and pyrantel into their worming programmes to treat roundworm.” With so much misinformation in the industry about worming, Kristy feels very strongly that the role of the SQP should be to educate and advise on best practice and to be someone that can be a trusted source of support for horse owners. 

Looking at the business in 2019, Kristy said that more high counts were seen last year, due to the changeable weather, compared to 2018. For her CPD, Kristy attends the BETA International show in Birmingham and completes modules online. She said: “I want to keep up-to-date with my CPD and my knowledge, but it is disappointing that there is not more equine CPD available.” Westgate Labs celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019 and Kristy said that sustainability is a focus for the business. At BETA, which runs from January 19-21, the company will unveil compostable packaging. “The packaging, which will double as an envelope to return a sample, will be composted at Westgate Labs and we have just taken back 110 acres of land, which will be turned into a nature reserve,” she added.

2019 winners stories

Farm SQP the Year

Sarah Brooks, Wynnstay Group

” Sarah has a strong focus on training and CPD and that shows through with her excellent technical knowledge”

Sarah Brooks, Wynnstay’s animal health training campaign manager, is responsible for organising all the AMTRA training for the business, along with the CPD training for the company’s ever-growing number of already qualified SQPs (currently numbering 230). She said: “I was delighted to win the Farm SQP of the Year award, which backs up all the training that I do and gives it credence; it’s great to be recognised for doing a good job.” Sarah said her role enables her to ensure all Wynnstay’s SQPs are trained to provide the right advice in the first instance and then to ensure that this is backed up by providing them with the right and relevant CPD training throughout the year. 

She is often in farmer-facing situations and she adds that she has a number of loyal customers who regularly deal with her due to the help and advice she is able to offer them. Sarah added: “As animal health professionals, we all have a responsibility to be promoting best practice and offering customers the correct ethical advice – by taking the time to talk to customers about their concerns, we can use our knowledge to help them make informed decisions about what anthelmintics or other management strategies are best suited to their needs. “Farmers will often appreciate the interest you are taking in their farm and will be grateful of receiving the right advice, particularly if it means they will see a better performance.” Since joining the Wynnstay animal health team seven years ago, Sarah has transformed how the company educates its SQPs. “We now have our own internal AMTRA SQP training programme and registered examination centre, which was set up in January 2018,” she said. “This initiative was my brainchild and was delivered with the support of the Wynnstay management team and Elanco Animal Health.” In its first year, Wynnstay was able to run three full courses, which resulted in the business gaining 45 new SQPs. Sarah is also responsible for organising Wynnstay’s animal health campaigns, which she says enables her to promote best practice to customers. “I have introduced a 12-month campaign calendar, which acts as a guide for our SQPs to know what topics are important to be talking to our customers about at the right time of year,” she said.

2019 winners stories

Independent Store of the Year

WE Jameson & Son, Masham

” Sally and her staff stood out for me with their knowledge and professionalism”

W.E. Jameson & Son was established by Eddie Jameson in 1930. The business is based in the small North Yorkshire market town of Masham and Graham Jameson is the third generation of the family to head the business. The business started by selling seeds to local farmers and the business soon developed into the sale of other farming essentials such as fertiliser and animal feeds. 

Sally Cornforth, the company’s merchant manager, said: “It was satisfying to win as we’ve put a lot of work into the store. When I went there five years ago, it was a little retail outlet in the middle of nowhere that had a few local customers – but it was totally missing the point of having something like that attached to the feed mill. “Graham asked me to be the merchant manager, but I couldn’t stand looking at the store as it was! We are feeding animals from the feed mill and they are at their optimal health, which is what we do with the SQP advice. This should help the farmers to be more sustainable and efficient.” Sally continued: “Before, it was just a little typical country store, selling bird food and gifts. With all the farmers that come to the mill, the store was a perfect place to talk to them. “We’ve gone, if I’m being generous, from selling £60,000 a year in animal health to £500,000 – and that’s just in worming products.” All staff are SQPs and five of them are R-SQP. Sally said that the store works hard with its customers to build up a relationship of trust, which allows them to discuss quite candidly their requirements. She said: “We’re not trying to sell them anthelmintics, not with the way the resistance situation is going. We want to work with farmers to do more faecal eggs counts and see whether there is something they are doing onfarm that they could do to avoid problems. “What we really try to sell is the fact that it doesn’t matter what you feed them, if the animal isn’t healthy, it’s not going to do well. Our aim is to work with the customer to make sure that their animal is in the best condition, so it is more productive and helps the farmer increase his margins.” The business holds regular meetings within the store, discussing anything from ‘getting more from your grass’ to talks on resistance in worms. Sally said: “We have also held a number of bolusing demo nights, which are always popular.”

2019 winners stories

Mastermind Award

Andrew Pattison RM Jones

“Andrew’s level of technical knowledge was outstanding”

Mastermind Award winner Andrew Pattison is farmcentre manager at RM Jones, based in Hay on Wye. He qualified as an SQP in 1986 and said that he was “pleased as punch” to win the Mastermind Award at the National SQP Awards. Andrew said: “I run my job on how I am able to help people, from a technical aspect. We’re a technical selling company; we can’t compete on price with the big boys, so we have to bring something else. “I like to think that you can learn something new all the time – I haven’t had a successful day if I can’t say I’ve learn something new. It doesn’t have to be work related, but if I examine my day and if I haven’t learnt something, then I’m disappointed.” 

Looking back at his time in the industry, Andrew highlighted that the regulatory and training body wasn’t AMTRA when he qualified. “When I started it was AHTAG,” he said. “I was one for the first batch of people to go through the exam. I fell in love with the industry as soon as I started at RM Jones; I loved the whole concept of getting the right product for the right job.” At the heart of his role over the years has been the responsibility for training in the business. Andrew said: “I try and avoid manufacturer training, if we can, because it’s too focused sometimes. I encourage people to do the online training now because that’s really good. Most people try to go to the AHDA Conference at least once in each cycle. We are members of the Downland Group, so have separate Downland training as well.” 

Looking at the challenges facing farmers, Andrew said: “The biggest challenges are Brexit and fluke, which is a feast for SQPs because it’s ever-present.” RM Jones recently started doing faecal egg counting, via FECPAK, which offers remote-location parasite assessment. Andrew said: “I drove this forward for the benefit of our customers; of the first 20 counts we had, we did not need to treat 17. The machine is a great tool and, hopefully, customers can further maximise their production with its use. The merchants in the UK, Andrew said, fall into one of two camps. “There are the product bashers and the technicians. The product bashers are going to have to adapt – you can’t make profit in this industry by flogging cheap products.” Looking ahead, Andrew said: “In the future, our client base will change an awful lot as we’re seeing small family farms disappearing, by being swallowed up by bigger farms.”

2019 winners stories

Multiple Store of the Year

Wynnstay Group, Llanfair Caereinion

” Ceri is focused on the needs of the customers but also has a passion to ensure that the right product is prescribed”

Ceri Jones, manager of Wynnstay’s store in Llanfair Caereinion, Powys, said she was delighted to accept the Multiple Store of the Year award. She has been store manager since November 2018, was previously a supervisor, and has worked for Wynnstay for eight years. Ceri said that the store mainly looks after sheep and beef farmers and it has “a handful” of dairy customers. “We know around 85% of customers,” Ceri said, “and the remaining 15% are new or occasional customers.” She said that there are a number of holiday parks in the vicinity, so pet accessories tend to sell well in the summer. Ceri said that customers travel to the store from a 20-mile radius and she highlighted that the store is at its busiest as farmers make their way back from four local markets. “The beginning of the week is the busiest,” she said, “with markets in Welshpool on Mondays, Shrewsbury on Tuesdays, Oswestry on Wednesdays and Dolgellau on Fridays.” Ceri said that customer service is tremendously important. “I like to get to know customers and I think that’s why we have so many repeat customers,” she said. “For the store to be successful, we need to be profitable but there are ways of doing it that puts the customer first. In my opinion, giving the correct advice to the customer that follows legislation and guidelines comes first.” 

Ceri said that her store is quite small with not many display areas. “Throughout the year, depending on the season, we change the end displays on the aisle to make them seasonal and for customers to be able to see what they need easily,” she said. “We put the displays in a convenient place en route to the counter. Experience is key with knowing what products will be needed at what time of year and it is important that we are constantly thinking ahead.” Ceri is keen to introduce regular coffee mornings. She said: “With depression and mental health issues wellknown in farming, having coffee mornings will be a perfect opportunity to have a general chat with someone to see how they are.” Looking back at the award win, Ceri said: “It was overwhelming to think that the store had been shortlisted. It is humbling to think that the hard work I put in has been recognised.”

2019 winners stories

Newly Qualified SQP of the Year

Charlotte Forkes-Rees, Mole Country Stores

“Charlotte’s passion for learning will stand her in good stead in this industry”

Newly Qualified SQP of the Year Charlotte Forkes-Rees qualified in April 2019 and prior to passing her exam worked in Mole Country Stores, Berkeley, where she was responsible for ordering equine products. Charlotte said: “It was amazing to be named Newly Qualified SQP of the Year, but the thought of going onto to the stage to collect the award was terrifying.” 

By her own admission, Charlotte loves to learn and she said that she was “over the moon” with her AMTRA exam results. “I achieved straight As in my AMTRA exams, as well as having achieved a first class BSc (Hons) degree in Bioveterinary Science and a PGCert in Equestrian Performance. I am also a qualified equine AI technician.” 

Charlotte said that she tries to get customers to plan ahead. When they visit the store in the first instance, she said it is important to build up a rapport so they feel at ease when discussing their needs. “I see the role of an SQP as a holistic one,” she said. “We are there for our customers throughout all their animals’ life stages and can be a great source of knowledge for ensuring that they get the best from and for their animals. “SQPs are an important link between customers and veterinary professionals, and in some instances are a first point of contact. It is, therefore, essential that the advice that SQPs offer is up to date and technically sound so that customers have the confidence in us as a profession as well as understand the importance of when we refer them for veterinary guidance.” 

Charlotte said that equine customers are becoming more aware of wormer resistance and are actively entering into discussions with her regarding the most appropriate medicine to use or whether using one in the first instance is even needed. “They are also asking for more general husbandry tips on how to lower their potential worm burdens and are open to the use of faecal egg counts. Antimicrobials and antibiotics are at the forefront of our farming community’s attention, and ways in which they can decrease their dependence on their use. In both instances I believe they are essential to tackle head on.” In the first four months of the current CPD period, Charlotte had amassed 74 points and has decided how best to further her learning. “I’ve not really been trying hard to get the CPD points,” Charlotte said, “but I may as well study to be a Gold Standard SQP in the first year.”

2019 winners stories

Nutritional Expertise Award

Lauren Yates, Pets at Home

“Lauren is obviously passionate about nutrition – she is a worthy winner in this category”

Lauren Yates has worked at Pets at Home for 10 years. She started in-store and for the last eight years she has been an expertise trainer. At college, she studied animal management business studies, and at university gained a BSc (Hons) degree in animal behaviour and welfare. She said: “I was proud to win the first Nutritional Expertise Award and admit that I was very surprised. 

I train colleagues to be open-minded in finding the best product for that individual pet rather than pushing any particular brand. “Customers often choose the food because they have seen it on TV or that’s what the breeder fed. I start by asking the customer what is it about that food they like. If it’s just the price, I show them the premium range and explain that even though the price point is higher on the shelf, due to the quality of the ingredients, the food is more nutrient-dense, therefore you don’t feed as much, giving you a lower cost per day.” “There are customers who might decide that they don’t want their dog any more because it smells or it sheds a lot,” Lauren said. “Nutrition can support the bond between owner and pet. If an owner can get their dog on a good diet and oral care routine when they are a puppy, they shouldn’t have any dental issues in later life.” Lauren said that store colleagues buy-in quite early to nutrition, but that, sometimes, it’s hard for them to talk to customers, especially if the customer doesn’t see it as an issue. “If it’s not bothering the customer, then they are less likely to want to do anything about it,” she said. Lauren said that Pets at Home includes ‘comprehensive nutrition training’ as part of the retailer’s basic programme. “I feel that pet obesity is a large problem – no pun intended – as it affects health, welfare and lifespan of the pet,” she said. “Overweight pets can be a difficult subject to broach as owners may not know, they may feel guilty or they may associate feeding the pet with showing love, but when you talk to the customer calmly and supportively, most are quite receptive.” 

Looking ahead, Lauren is keen to expand her knowledge. “I would like to achieve Gold Standard SQP status and I am also keen to become an R-SQP,” she said. “I am very passionate about nutrition and spend time out of work and in work researching new developments in the field.”

2019 winners stories

Outstanding Customer Service Award

Gillian Smeaton, East of Scotland Farmers

“Gillian has developed excellent relationships with her customers”

Gillian Smeaton is an R-SQP working for East of Scotland Farmers, a co-operative in Coupar Angus, a town in Perth & Kinross. She has worked for the business for 10 years and qualified as an SQP six years ago. She said: “I was delighted to win the award; it felt good to win. I’m not big-headed, but I felt very much like this was my moment. “On the way back to Scotland, I was stopped by security at Gatwick. They said there was a weird object in my bag. I took out my award and security staff congratulated me; it was kind of funny.” 

Gillian started working at the age of 15 at East of Scotland Farmers as a Saturday girl, and would work extra hours during her school holidays. She said: “I wanted to leave school, but East of Scotland Farmers had no full-time jobs available. I left and started in a call centre but only lasted six months – I absolutely hated it. “I messaged my old boss asking if there were any jobs available and to my delight there were.” Gillian explained that a condition of returning to the business was that she went through the AMTRA training. “At 18, I went through my training and sat the exams,” she said. “At the age of 25, I am still here. I love my job.” 

Gillian said that customer service is so important as it brings customers back and improves loyalty. “We have a number of competitors nearby, so we have to stand out and take service to the next level,” she said. “I’d bend over backwards for every single customer to an extent, but if they’re being rude then I won’t.” Customers travel from a wide radius of the store, including some as far afield as Pitlochry, which is a 45-minute drive away. Gillian said: “We must be doing something right.” Over the last three or four years, Gillian said that she had noticed changes in how customers behave. She explained: “We have stubborn customers that do what they’ve always done and it’s difficult to explain, for example, that they can’t take Heptavac out of the fridge and leave it on their dashboard while they drive for an hour back to the farm. Now, farmers are bringing in cool bags, so we can see the progress.” Gillian works three days a week following the birth of her son in 2018. Asked if she might consider studying for the Gold Standard SQP, Gillian said: “Never say never.”

2019 winners stories

Outstanding Contribution to the Industry

John FitzGerald

“John is a true champion for the industry “

The Outstanding Contribution to the Industry recipient, John FitzGerald, played a pivotal role in defending the UK’s multi-channel distribution system, which enables SQPs to prescribe, following changes to EU legislation in 2004. As director of operations at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), Mr FitzGerald, a career civil servant, was responsible for the key phrase in the EU Directive and then the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2005, that a veterinary prescription was one “issued by a professional person qualified to do so in accordance with applicable national law”. At that time, the EU had proposed that medicines for all food producing animals should be prescription-only. Mr FitzGerald said: “If that happened, and we didn’t change the system in the UK, then we’d have been left with SQPs not being able to supply them – or only supply them under the direction of a veterinary surgeon. “That clearly wouldn’t work – SQPs provide a great role in enhancing the availability of medicines and allowing them to be delivered with the right advice.” 

Mr FitzGerald said he was “honoured, amazed and delighted” to win the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry award at the National SQP Awards. “Working in the veterinary medicines sector was at the end of my career,” he said. “But it was also one of the happiest times in my career. “Safety, quality and efficacy was the mantra at the VMD – to the person purchasing a veterinary medicine, and then using it, it’s about giving them the right advice; and having the right advice available. The aim has always been to try to get the right medicines to the right animals, so they are treated when they need to be treated.” After successfully amending the EU directive, Mr FitzGerald linked up with a lawyer at Defra and, together, they rewrote all of the UK veterinary medicines legislation and this led to the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2005. He said: “We wanted to move away from the Medicines Act 1968, which was based on human medicines with a few tweaks for animal medicines. We agreed to write it in plain English, so that everyone would understand what they had to do, but also understand what the potential penalties were if they didn’t do it. “The new legislation gave us an opportunity to increase the status of SQPs into a more professional body. At the time, SQPs were the only group of people that had CPD written in legislation – it was a legal requirement. We also started to encourage more partnerships between SQPs and vets, because it was a good way to go forward; in some areas, that has happened.” 

In 2011, Mr FitzGerald retired from the VMD and joined the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) as secretary general. Mr FitzGerald said: “I’ve always thought that RUMA was a fantastic initiative as it pressed all the right buttons about the responsible use of medicines.” When presenting the award, Phil Sketchley also gave Mr FitzGerald a bag of Smarties. An odd gift but Mr FitzGerald explained: “I used the phrase “you’re not selling Smarties” to highlight that the industry was producing and selling authorised veterinary medicines not sweets and this required a different mindset so that the medicines were sold responsibly and not just for profit.”

2019 winners stories

Store Manager of the Year

Stefanie Willey Mole Country Stores

“Stefanie is passionate about her job and she sees as herself as a key link between animal owners and the local vets “

Stefanie Willey, manager of Mole Country Stores in Hexham, Northumberland, has worked at the store (under its various guises) for 15 years, the last 12 years as manager. She said: “I was delighted to win the award; it’s a brilliant achievement and I think it was testament to me and my team – I was really chuffed and it means an awful lot.” 

Stefanie started her management career, aged 22, in Marks and Spencer where she underwent a comprehensive and robust training programme. “I have always learned from my mentors and had the ability to adapt to change in retail environments,” she said. The store’s location in Hexham has made it an integral part of the community and Stefanie said that she works with schools and community groups to educate them on key issues, such as fleas and ticks in pets. Recently she presented to the local pony club, which included a talk about faecal egg counts. The store is 50/50 when it comes to sales of agri and retail. The store, which is large and has comprehensive ranges, employs four R-SQPs and two E-SQPs and Stefanie said that she is looking at converting the E-SQPs to R-SQP status. 

The store has a huge catchment area, with customers travelling from Carlisle (39 miles away), Newcastle (20 miles), Otterburn (23 miles) and Rothbury (33 miles). Stefanie said that there is also a customer that travels 37 miles from Carter Bar on the Scotland-England border. She said: “Mole is an agricultural merchant first and foremost, but then it has the bolt-ons, which mean we can be something for everyone. Customers could leave with a packet of biscuits or £1,000 worth of fence posts or gun cartridges. “Some merchants’ customers would only go for something to do with agriculture, but Mole is completely different.” Stefanie said that her role within the store is diverse and the most important thing for her is the customer and the experience they have within the store. She said: “Our customers have high expectations and it is my job to meet them and deliver their customer journey from start to finish whilst in the store. This is only achieved through forward planning, ensuring that the right products are available at the right time, and the store is well thought out and easy to navigate with colourful and impactive displays.  “The ability of the team to field the diverse range of questions we face daily is vitally important, as is training and development. I love watching the team develop self-confidence and competence to impart the appropriate and correct advice in a friendly and business-like manner.”

2019 winners stories

Trade Supplier of the Year

Elanco

“Elanco said it was “thrilled” to have retained the title. “

Elanco was crowned Trade Supplier of the Year for the second year in a row at the National SQP Awards. Nominated by customers, Elanco said it was “thrilled” to have retained the title. Katherine Openshaw, Elanco’s ruminant marketing manager, said: “We are delighted our customers have once again named us as their Trade Supplier of the Year. “SQPs play an important role in imparting disease awareness and product information to farmers. However, sometimes they don’t always get that full recognition from their customers because their role is so varied and often goes beyond animal health.” 

Ms Openshaw said the trade business accounts for a significant share of Elanco’s UK business, so it is a major focus for the ruminant team. She added: “We are committed to helping and supporting SQPs with disease, product and sales skills to ensure they feel confident when interacting with their farmer customers. Many of the team have farming or SQP backgrounds so they understand the pressures and challenges farmers and SQPs face.” Ms Openshaw said that delivering high quality, innovative products and services to farmers is a cornerstone of Elanco seen most recently within the ruminant space with the launch of CLiK EXTRA and the reclassification of Zolvix to POM-VPS. “SQPs are crucial in ensuring responsible use messages are communicated to farmers alongside other, direct-to-farmer communication routes,” she said. “A huge thank you to all SQPs who have driven the Zolvix story to farmers, explaining SCOPS guidance for sustainable worm control, the key usage periods for Zolvix and encouraging trial. We appreciate the continued support SQPs give to our portfolio and especially to these innovation brands.” Ms Openshaw said that training and development continues to be a key area for Elanco, both for the team and SQPs. The team regularly refresh their knowledge and skills including practical, on-farm sessions focusing on application. For SQPs, Elanco launched the Ruminant Knowledge Hub in autumn, accessible via its MyElanco portal. She added: “The Ruminant Knowledge Hub allows SQPs to take control of their own development and learning either by desktop or mobile and contains AMTRA-accredited CPD and related resources. It’s designed to be bite-size and aid learning and recall. MyElanco also includes news, product information and how-to videos.” For 2020, Ms Openshaw said the Elanco team is focused on continuing to support SQPs in engaging and interesting ways, especially via its MyElanco platform and are looking forward to catching up with customers at this month’s AHDA conference. She added: “Sign up to www. myelanco.co.uk and add to your favourites now so you don’t miss out on regular email alerts through the season.”

2019 winners stories

Veterinary Practice SQP of the Year

Dawn Prime, Wherry Vets

“Dawn shows an exemplary level of knowledge in all aspects”

Dawn Prime, senior animal care assistant at Wherry Vets, a veterinary practice on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, added Veterinary Practice SQP of the Year to her SQP of the Year crown (see page 42) at the National SQP Awards 2019. She said: “I’ve been in the veterinary industry for 15 years and winning this means so much to me; veterinary is my life, I don’t know anything different. “The team at the practice are proud, which is amazing and I know the team is 100% behind me.” 

Dawn said her main role in the practice is to help the vet – the practice has three full-time vets and one locum vet. “I am in the consultations with the vet,” she said. “They are busy and don’t have time to talk about flea treatments, so this is something I can, while the vet gets on with something a bit more important.” Dawn is full of admiration and praise for practice manager Wendy Baylis-Womack and clinical director Sebastian Szpakowski. She said: “We were running 10-minute appointments for everything and when Seb was appointed, for more difficult things like diarrhoea and vomiting, we now have 15-minute consultations, which gives us more time with the animals and better continuity for the clients – it gives us more time to do what we need to do. “Booster appointments are 10 minutes, but I’m also in those consultations, so if there’s any flea or worm treatment needed, or to be discussed, I take over.” 

As part of her role, Dawn also does nursing assistant work including holding the animals, helping with the blood test and running the bloods, if necessary. Recalling a recent case, Dawn said: “A customer came in and said his dog was “a bit itchy”. Before the client put the dog, a cocker spaniel, on the table, we asked some questions to get a quick history of the animal. “The dog was covered in fleas and the vet asked me to explain the lifecycle of fleas to the client. The client didn’t realise that the house has to be treated as well as the animal, only 5% of fleas are on the animal.” Dawn added: “Fleas are the biggest problem that I see in the practice, which are disgusting. I prefer ticks, because at least I can take them off.” Looking at her role, Dawn said the work she really enjoys is interacting with customers. “I like being with the clients,” she said. “Some of them know me by name and they trust me, which I think is brilliant. If you tell them to do something, they will do it, there’s no doubt about it.”

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