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Join the Animal Welfare Foundation’s annual Discussion Forum as the charity celebrates 40 years

5 min read Partner content

Tickets are now on sale for the Animal Welfare Foundation’s annual Discussion Forum, which will not only be packed full of expert speakers and key animal welfare debates but will also proudly celebrate 40 years of fantastic work by the charity. 

The Animal Welfare Foundation, which is the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA’s) charity, turns 40 this year. The Discussion Forum, on 6 June 2023 at One Birdcage Walk in Westminster, is one of the highlights of the charity’s calendar and will mark this milestone during the day by looking back at the charity’s work – which has included investing more than £2 million into research - and at how animal welfare has changed and progressed since it began. The event will include special talks by beneficiaries of AWF, including Professor Donald Broom, whose AWF funded animal welfare professorship at Cambridge University was a world first that transformed the study of animal welfare within veterinary education.

There will be plenty of opportunities to network during the day and also at a celebratory evening drinks reception, which will include an appearance by guest speaker Giles Yeo MBE, a geneticist and professor of Molecular Neuroendocrinology. He will share anecdotes from his career and insights on his work, which focusses on the role of genetics in obesity and includes a research project on the ‘fat gene’ and how it affects obesity in Labradors.

The event, which is open to the whole veterinary community, animal welfare professionals, students and policy makers, will host expert speakers who will delve into key cross-species welfare topics, including technology, environmental sustainability, diet and welfare and human behaviour change. 

Prior to the event, delegates will be invited to take up the opportunity of getting on stage themselves in brand new “lightning sessions”. These will run throughout the day separate to the main sessions and will give delegates the chance to talk about the welfare issues and topics they are passionate about.

The programme for the event is continuing to evolve over the coming weeks but so far it includes a discussion and debate on ‘Technology and welfare’ exploring the benefits and risks of new and innovative veterinary technology to animal welfare across multiple species, with particular focus on ‘animal welfare monitoring technology’ and the role of the vet professional in this area. Joining the panel is equine vet and founder of the Equitrace app Kevin Corley and Professor Jonathan Statham, who is Chair of the Animal Health and Welfare Board (AHWBE) for England. They will be joined by Nicola Blackie, Senior Lecturer in Production Animal Science at Royal Veterinary College.

Another session, ‘Human Behaviour Change – Influencing owner behaviour and preventing welfare issues’, will focus on the science of human behaviour change in relation to animal welfare issues and will help to empower delegates to apply new skills and knowledge while in practice. It will be led by Suzanne Rogers and Jo White of Human Behaviour Change for Life and will focus on issues around breeding and introduce the audience to practical techniques to influence owner behaviour for better welfare.

‘Diet, sustainability, and animal welfare’ will be debated by an expert panel examining environmental sustainability and its implications for animal welfare, focusing on human and animal diets. The panel, which includes Head of Research at Compassion in World Farming Sarah Ison; CEO of Agri-EPI Dave Ross, Rob Percival of Soil Association and Dr Hillary Pearce, Associate Manager of Professional and Veterinary Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, will discuss if an effective balance between environmentally sustainable food production and animal welfare is possible.

AWF’s Chair of Trustees Julian Kupfer said: “AWF’s Discussion Forum is always an energetic, insightful and inspirational debate. It provides veterinary professionals with an important, safe space to explore and engage with often difficult issues, such as contentious subjects like overtreatment and the link between human and animal abuse. The Forum provides delegates with the opportunity to deepen and evolve their understanding of animal welfare as well as being a vital catalyst for action. As AWF celebrates its 40th anniversary, we look forward to sharing our reflections of the past four decades and the important work of the Foundation.”

BVA President Malcolm Morley added: “The Animal Welfare Foundation’s Discussion Forum is a unique opportunity to network with and hear from experts from across the veterinary and animal welfare sector as well as discuss and debate key issues and concerns. The Foundation has done so much good in the past 40 years, so this is not only a chance to celebrate an amazing milestone but also to reflect on the difference the charity has made and how it can continue to fight for future improvements to animal welfare.”

To find out more about the AWF Discussion Forum and book your ticket, visit  You can also follow the conversation on Twitter, via @AWF_VETS and using the hashtag #AWFDebate on the day