Let's Walk and Talk
Veterinary Voices Hiking Group
The Veterinary Voices Hiking Group aims to get the profession out and about, making friends, forging connections, increasing support networks and improving physical and mental wellbeing.
01 Snowdonia Way
Please never feel like you are travelling the journey alone. The veterinary industry is full of the most astounding, imaginative, intelligent, inspirational, kind, generous individuals. It is absolutely okay, to not be okay! But please don’t be ‘not okay’ on your own. You do not need to walk this journey without your collective profession embracing you and supporting you. And if you’re not ready for that, then Vetlife is here; anonymously, day or night, every single day of the year. Please do not hesitate to seek help.
Snowdonia Way Raises £10K for Charity!
Vetlife treasurer Dr Horwood said “It was fantastic to get 20-plus vets and nurses together for a real challenge. The weather was kind, and we had some truly breathtaking experiences such as wild camping high up in the hills.
After so long feeling isolated from each other, it was a wonderful five days getting together, talking and walking across the beautiful Welsh countryside, and to top it all off we raised an impressive sum to support the ongoing work of Vetlife – a charity we all hold dear.”
02 Braving Storm Eunice for First Wellness Walk of 2022
The weekend of 20 February saw a group of vets and RVNs brave storm Eunice, and cover 17km, gaining 650 meters in snow at Glencoyne Head in the Lake District to take part in the first Veterinary Voices Hiking Group walk of 2022 – its second trip after a maiden Snowdonia trek in September 2021.
Veterinary Voices Hiking Group was set up by RVN Robyn Lowe, and vets Paul Horwood and Danny Chambers to “get the profession out and about”, and raise money for Vetlife.
Dr Horwood said: “Getting into the hills is my happy place, and the hiking group is there to encourage and support getting out into the countryside with friends and colleagues from across our profession.
The weekend in the lakes was the perfect antidote to the stresses and pressures of life, and was our second planned trip.”
03 National Three Peaks Challenge
On the weekend of the 22-23rd July, the Veterinary Voices Hiking Group set off on the National 3 Peaks Challenge in aid of Vetlife.
Co-founders Paul Horwood and Robyn Lowe, a veterinary surgeon and registered veterinary nurse, guided the group across Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.
The team started at Ben Nevis and then drove overnight to Scafell where they enjoyed a moonlit hike, guided by their head torches, to the summit. Accompanied by a spectacular sun rise on the descent of Scafell the team then travelled to the Snowdonia mountain range and made for the summit of Snowdon in horrendous conditions including persistent horizontal rain and high winds.
04 The Herriot Way
The 20th-24th October saw the Veterinary Voices Hiking Group gather to hike the Herriot Way. As Herriot once wrote ‘Animals are unpredictable things, and so our life is unpredictable. It's a long tale of little triumphs and disasters.’ The hike aims to raise vital funds for our community experiencing the ‘unpredictable’. Vetlife Chairty aims to support our community through mental health burdens, its services are needed more so than ever in the current climate.
Walking in persistent rain, fog, drizzle, sun and wind the Veterinary Voices Hiking Group covered the Herriot way over four days – going back to their base at Keld Lodge for the evening. The group even enjoyed learning new things from other members such as ballroom dancing and exhilarating dips in the cold waterfalls by moonlight!
For many walkers this was a chance to talk, make new friends and connections and enjoy the great outdoors; an aim of the group is to bring our community together. It was also a time of reflection on those friends and colleagues who are struggling or who we have sadly lost, a reminder of why fundraising for Vetlife is so essential to allow them to carry on their vital work.
05 The South Downs
The team at Veterinary Voices UK spent four days spanning the bank holiday weekend leading a group of 20 veterinary professionals (and some brave partners) across 80KM, and more, of the South Downs Way.
Hike with an incredible community
Raise money & awareness for Vetlife
Make new friends and connections
Support mentorship & community
Enjoy the great outdoors
Support physical and mental wellness
Walk and talk
Trustees of Vetlife Paul Horwood and Robyn Lowe organised the four day community event to navigate across part of the South Downs Way.
Starting at Winchester Cathedral we were supported by another trustee of Vetlife Danny Chambers who lives and works in the area as a veterinary surgeon.
Testament to the beauty of belonging to a community, people joined the walk having never met anyone else before, and fitted in like old friends. Individuals joined us from all over the country and some even flew in from abroad to spend some time with like minded professionals.
Loniness & Making Connections
There could be a number of reasons veterinary professionals become lonely – being away from family and friends, long shifts or unsociable hours meaning people miss social engagements, tiredness after a hard week’s work meaning we don’t have the energy to reach out to friends, and the higher that average occurrence of anxiety and depression which can lead to people isolating themselves could all contribute to a sense of loneliness and isolation.
Loneliness is so unique to an individual it is hard to give advice on how to alleviate it, but one thing for certain is that a sense of community as well as opportunity to build new connections, whether physical or virtual, could go some way in allowing veterinary professionals to build a support system to tackle loneliness.
The aim from the group includes a few objectives, mostly I wanted to see our profession get out and about for their mental and physical health but also, I would like to address the isolation and loneliness many within our profession experience. I wanted people to forge new friendships, meet up to walk and talk, join our organised events to meet fellow professionals and hopefully make local and national connections.
Aware that a Hiking Group cannot fix all the factors, of which there are many, that influence the sad statistics surrounding mental health in veterinary profession, one thing It can do is getting our profession back in the fresh air, exercising, meeting up for local walks and forging connections, friendships and support systems in the local area and across the UK!
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta