The UK’s leading veterinary and scientific research charity, Animal Health Trust (AHT), is celebrating its 75th birthday with a series of events throughout the year.
Over the last three quarters of a century, discoveries made at the charity’s 100-acre base at Newmarket, have affected veterinary science around the world. This includes new cures, treatments and disease prevention. Even if your animal has never visited the AHT, it will have benefitted from the AHT’s research and continuous education for vets and scientists of the future.
The charity was founded in 1942 by vet and President of the National Veterinary Medical Association (now the British Veterinary Association), Reginald Wooldridge, who wanted to see veterinary medicine advance at the same pace as human medicine. In 1959 Her Majesty The Queen became Patron of the charity and in 1991, HRH The Princess Royal became President. The AHT has pioneered veterinary medicine and in 1992 it became the owner of Europe’s first dedicated veterinary MRI machine, as well as becoming one of the first laboratories to offer DNA testing for inherited diseases in dogs.
In 2002, collaborating with scientists in the USA and France, AHT scientists published the most comprehensive genetic map of the dog currently available. In 2011, with the Kennel Club, the AHT launched Mate Select – an online tool helping breeders to make well-informed decisions to reduce hereditary problems. The following year it opened the only centre in Europe with a purpose-built Cancer Centre to deliver radiation therapy to dogs, cats and horses.
Last year, the charity launched its Give a Dog a Genome, supported by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, to create the UK’s largest canine genome bank containing DNA from 75 different breeds. This will hopefully help to find gene mutations and help develop new DNA tests.
To mark the anniversary, supporters and clients joined the AHT on Tuesday 28 March for a special event. Clients were reunited with the vets that had helped their pets and visitors could also take a peek behind the scenes and hear presentations on the AHT’s mission and history from the AHT’s CEO, Dr Mark Vaudin, and Head of Individual Giving and Trusts, Mr Andrew Simmonds.
“We’re so excited about celebrating our 75th Anniversary this year,” says Dr Vaudin, “We’re often the unsung hero when it comes to animal health, so we hope our ambassadors here today will help us spread the word about all the amazing things we’ve achieved – and hope to – throughout the rest of the year. Seeing some of patients return today with wagging tails is testament to our science providing real-life animal benefits. I’m sure it was a nice change for these patients to be visiting the charity without needing to go for a check-up! Fingers crossed 2017 will be another year we make history at the AHT.”
The AHT has a calendar full of events throughout the year to continue the anniversary celebrations; including its annual Charity Race Day at Newmarket’s July Course (10 June) and UK Equestrian Awards in London (31 October). The AHT has set itself the ambitious target of raising an additional £75,000 this anniversary year, through events and challenges, which will go towards the AHT’s biggest capital fundraising campaign in recent years – to buy a new MRI machine at a total cost of £400,000.