Lesley speaks passionately about inspirational vet nurse and the legacy she left behind

She was an inspiration to thousands, a style icon for many and one of the finest vet nurses of her generation.

But in an emotional tribute to Louise O’Dwyer – on the eve of the first anniversary of her death and at the start of vet nurse awareness month – Lesley Moore, the inaugural winner of a bursary in Louise’s name, said she was simply a great friend and colleague.

Louise tragically died on May 5 last year, aged just 45, leaving the entire veterinary community devastated.

To celebrate her life – and to ensure her passion for education continued to positively impact the profession – we launched a bursary in her name for the individual who best demonstrated a commitment to making a difference while continuing Louise’s enthusiasm for shared learning.

Lesley, our senior vet nurse in Macclesfield, was the first recipient of the £2000 award and has put it towards a postgraduate certificate in veterinary education at the RVC.

Image of Lesley Moore of Vets Now receiving Louise O'Dwyer bursary
Lesley, a senior vet nurse in Vets Now's Macclesfield clinic, receiving her award from Amanda Boag

Lesley said: “Lou was just an amazingly charismatic person, both professionally and personally. I’ve said many times before, her skill levels and knowledge were unsurpassed and she was always there if you needed help with a case.

“Personally, we spent most of our time talking about vintage hair and clothes, which was a passion for both of us. I remember her for that as much as the professional side of things and those memories are just as important for me.

“As her friend, I had very mixed feelings about winning the bursary. I’m clearly delighted to have been the inaugural winner. Being in the veterinary profession isn’t just a job for me. I’m very lucky that when I go to work I am doing something that I love.

“However, I still think about Lou regularly and it’s just such a shame she isn’t still here with us all. She would’ve been the first one celebrating any award win.”

Louise, who was from Wigan, Greater Manchester, had a huge influence on the thousands of vet professionals who encountered her through her lectures, practical guide books and journal papers.

She won several awards for her exceptional contribution to the profession, including the BSAVA’s prestigious Bruce Vivash Jones Veterinary Nurse Award and the RCVS Golden Jubilee Award.

Three years after taking up the role as Vets Now’s clinical support manager, based at our emergency and specialty hospital in Manchester, Louise became the first veterinary nurse from the UK to be elected president of the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians.

Her sudden death last year had a profound effect on vet professionals across the world and we wanted to remember her in a way that embodied her values of continuous improvement and developing others.

Image of Vets Now's Lesley Moore and Louise O'Dwyer
Lesley and Louise discussing their shared passion for vet nursing at our ECC Congress in Harrogate in 2017

Lesley added: “Winning the bursary has been nothing but a positive experience for me. I think sometimes in clinic we wonder what the next step might be, whether it’s a further qualification or a partial diversification.

“Having an additional £2000 to spend on top of Vets Now’s already generous CPD budget gives you a lot of options, especially if there is something you are already very passionate about developing further.

“I’m currently in the process of applying for the postgraduate certificate in veterinary education at the RVC, which is the first part of a masters degree. I’ve always tried to be the best mentor I can be to my support staff, RVNs and new or less experienced ECC vets, but I recognise I have minimal formal training in this area.

“Before I won the bursary I had started writing and delivering lectures. Since winning Louise’s award, and also an RCVS Knowledge award last year, this has really started to develop.

“I speak quite a lot for Vets Now and I had started lecturing at some of the major veterinary conferences. Unfortunately, the current Covid-19 situation has put all of that on hold for the time being. While it’s not the same as getting out there and meeting people, I do have some ECC webinars coming up soon.”

Applications for this year’s Louise O’Dywer bursary, which is for Vets Now staff only, will open soon. The BVNA has also launched its own bursary ‘lifelong’ bursary in honour of Louise, which is open to all vet nurses. For more information click here.