Vet Festival and One Live 2015 – Being part of something amazing and somehow meeting the Hoosiers by Rachel Bermingham

It’s been an incredible week. The first ever VET Festival and concert for ‘One Medicine’ took place in the grounds of Surrey University; the brainchild of Noel Fitzpatrick.  As a Surrey vet student I got the opportunity to volunteer at the event. With an amazing line-up of speakers, a chance to network and my aim to take up as many opportunities as possible, how could I turn it down?

VET Festival was an event designed for vets to learn in a new way – a conference based in a festival village! It was bizarre to turn up for an education weekend in a field, with a stage set up, marquees and straw bale seating.  In typical festival fashion the Saturday was a bit on the grey side. Turning up at 7am on Saturday morning, it was freezing cold as we got kitted up in our VET Festival tees and started setting up the registration desks. Having been to conferences, it was exciting to be “behind-the-scenes” and seeing all the work that goes into running large events.

After a briefing, we started welcoming delegates. With a ticket scanning device, I had great fun figuring out how to register people, then hand them their badge, bright pink wristband for the evening concert and bag stuffed full of information and direct them towards what everyone clearly needs at that time of the morning – caffeine!

Next, I moved onto welcoming people into the introductory talk from the man himself, Mr Noel Fitzpatrick and after that I had a chance to explore the festival, start networking with the companies represented and of course, pick up as many freebies as possible!  It was good to talk to Natural Instinct about raw feeding dogs and cats and great to start meeting people who might be able to come and give talks to us during clinical clubs.

After lunch, we continued networking and had a go at laparoscopy skills, which became a bit of a competition between myself and Chris, of Vet School Diary fame.


Noel reminding us all why we do what we do at One Live


The day ended with ‘One Live’, the first ever concert with a  ‘One Health/One Medicine’ theme. The evening kicked off with a speech from Noel, reminding us of why we were there – One Medicine.

Millions of animals have given their lives to develop treatments and cures for human patients – from knee replacements to cancer treatments – but rarely does this feed back into veterinary medicine, so our animal patients can also benefit. Some of the work Noel is doing, is also revolutionary in human medicine, but in order for some of his implants and treatments for animal patients to make it into human medicine, animals would need to be sacrificed in order for these to be approved for use.

The idea of One Medicine just makes sense; the entire medical profession, vets and doctors alike sharing advances so that it is possible to advance health together. One Medicine, One Health, One Live.


Hunter and the Bear kicking off One Live


Then it was into Pets, Hugs and Rock n Roll, with Hunter and the Bear kicking off the evening. Dancing at the very front, so close to the action was amazing.

Great music, great atmosphere, great people

Great music, great atmosphere, great people


Next up were the Hoosiers, much to our excitement! What’s more, we got to meet them backstage, after the gig.


The Hoosiers on stage at One Live



Hanging out backstage with the Hoosiers and Noel

The conference rounded off listening to keynote speaker, the great Jane Goodall. It was amazing to hear her speak, to hear her story of how she came to be where she is and her passion for making the world a better place for all its inhabitants. The whole room seemed to hang on her every word, and although I can’t speak for everyone I certainly came out of her talk feeling uplifted and full of hope for the future.

The idea of One Medicine is a fantastic one, and it was absolutely fantastic to be able to be part of the VET Festival event. The idea of giving back to animals is an especially important one to me – it really is the reason I fought so hard to get where I am today, to overcome some personal difficulties, so that I can be a vet. I feel I owe it to animals to give something back. Animals have given me so much – they give me confidence, happiness and companionship; they make pain much more bearable and help to tolerate more. I feel I owe my life to them, and so I need to give something back to them.

After such an inspiring weekend, I can’t wait to get stuck into my second year!