Wigtown Children’s Book Spearheads National Vet Recruitment Campaign

A picture book published by independent Wigtown bookseller Foggie Toddle is being sent to every primary school in Scotland to inspire p1/2 children to be vets when they grow up.

Foggie Toddle owner Jayne Baldwin and is delighted that Shona the Vet has been chosen to head the national campaign to address a shortage of vets.

The book was written and illustrated by Catherine Stables, a vet from Keith, Moray. It tells the adventures of a vet travelling around the country treating Scotland’s more unusual animals.

Shona the Vet is being sent to every primary school as a project by Future Vets Scotland, in association with the country’s three centres of veterinary medicine – the University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College.

The project comes as a new HND course at SRUC opens the door this year to many more animal-loving pupils, by creating an access route to veterinary medicine without the requirement of five As in your Highers.

Dr Karen Gardiner founded Future Vets Scotland in 2023 after the strenuous efforts required for her two daughters to get the work experience necessary to study veterinary medicine, and the reduction in the number of pupils going into the profession.

She said: “There is a perception that competition is high but the reality is the number applying is falling and with an ageing vet population we need more young vets.

“FVS guides children of all ages through the process of becoming a vet. It offers online and in-person resources for primary and secondary age pupils including real-life interviews with vets telling their stories to inspire and inform pupils; a database that matches pupils with places that offer work experience and mentorship; advice for school careers advisors; and links to the admissions teams in all three Scottish vet schools.”

Foggie Toddle Books owner Jayne Baldwin said: “As a very small independent publisher, we are absolutely delighted to have been able to help this excellent project with a special edition of Shona the Vet. We hope it will encourage a new generation of children to consider being a vet as a career.”

Author Catherine Stables, from Keith, Moray, who’s been a vet for nearly 25 years, says: “I thought it would be good to have a female main character as vet, it’s not well known that 85% of vets are women. And I wanted to show Scottish creatures other than highland cows and Nessie!

“You never know what animals you’ll see as a vet – no two days are the same. It’s never boring! And it’s really rewarding when you see animals getting better.”

Sheila Voas, Chief Veterinary Officer (Scotland), said: “This is a fantastic initiative which I hope will get more children thinking about Veterinary Studies as a possible future career option. My thanks to Karen and the Scottish vet schools for making it possible.

“I hope the stories in the book being will inspire the dreams of children, while the resources for schools and pupils on the Future Vets website will offer practical support which can make that dream come true.”

Professor Caroline Argo, Dean of Veterinary Medicine and Head of the new SRUC School of Veterinary Medicine said: “The resource that Future Vets provides to support and encourage our vets of the future is invaluable. Encouraging young people with a passion for animals to follow their dream, no matter their background, is something that we at SRUC strongly support.

“The case studies featured on the website show the wide variety of experiences that the vets of today have had, and serve to inspire our vets of tomorrow. At SRUC we value highly the diversity and different experiences that all our students bring.”

Professor Christopher Loughrey, Head of the University of Glasgow’s School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine, said: “Colleagues at Glasgow are delighted to have been able to support this venture and we are excited and hopeful that this raises awareness of the veterinary profession as a possible career option for children across Scotland.”

Professor Lisa Boden, Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Dean of Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, said: “We are delighted and proud to support this wonderful book – Shona the Vet. Our hope is that it inspires many children and their families to explore, nurture, and eventually realise their dreams of a career in veterinary medicine and agriculture.”