25 Oct 2021

Best Celebration Event


We meet the team at the RCVS, who share some insights into their success at winning the Best Celebration Event at the recent memcom awards.

Tell us about your virtual celebratory event, Honours & Awards

One of the highlights of our annual events calendar is the Honours & Awards ceremony, our annual celebration of the achievements of veterinary professionals who are delivering – or have delivered- outstanding contributions to the profession. The award winners are people who have vision and whose contributions will leave the veterinary profession in a fundamentally better state as a result of their work; people who have all truly ‘made a difference’. From the vet who has a career-long commitment to improving the lives of dogs with canine arthritis, to the visionary whose research has led to the acknowledgement and recognition of the link between abuse to animals and other forms of abuse, the achievements and impact of the award recipients are important achievements to acknowledge.


What was the overarching strategy?

Our vision was to develop a virtual event that enabled us to tell the inspirational stories of the award recipients, celebrating the people behind the achievements. We developed the idea of creating simple, hand-drawn animations to do the storytelling in a relatable and 'human' way. We knew that viewing a ceremony via a computer screen could be a poor substitute for in-person congratulations from peers, we saw the animations as a way of overcoming these limitations and capturing emotion to do justice to the achievements of this extraordinary group of people. The hand-drawn illustrations were an important human touch for our vision – the event celebrates achievements and we wanted to bring them to life in a personable way.


An important part of the brief to our agency partner, Think BDA, was to ensure that the award recipients - many of whom had been working for decades on projects and initiatives for which they were being rewarded - did not feel that the online event was 'second best' compared to the usual in-person event. This required significant care in the development of the animations to ensure that the medium did not detract from the important of the subject matter but also enhanced the storytelling through sensitive messaging and imagery. To ensure a sense of gravitas was maintained, the co-hosts of the event, RCVS Senior Vice President Dr Niall Connell and RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett, wore their ceremonial robes for the presentation.


What are you most proud of?

There were numerous benefits to re-thinking the Honours & Awards event, one of the greatest being the enhanced inclusivity enabling all recipients to take part in a way that was meaningful and accessible to them. For example, the recipient of the RCVS Queen’s Medal, the most prestigious award bestowed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, was Dr Mary Stewart. In her 90s, Dr Stewart opted to have her acceptance speech read by her daughter at her home as that was what she felt comfortable with.


The animated content allowed us to create stories that included often emotionally-charged content, that may have been distressing to convey if it had been filmed. For example, Freda Scott-Park's ground breaking and internationally significant work on recognising the link between animal abuse and other forms of abuse could be illustrated sensitively, capturing the seriousness of the topic simply and elegantly. As a result, the online Honours & Awards event developed in response to pandemic-related restrictions was more creative than it had been before, offering a different but equivalent experience for recipients where their contributions to the veterinary profession could be recognised and celebrated amongst their peers.


How did you measure success?

The online Honours & Awards event achieved the highest attendance of any online event hosted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons during 2020, with 390 attendees. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with feedback including:


“Thank you for organising a really engaging Awards Ceremony on Thursday – it was very interesting to hear the background stories and details of the award winners, and the art work was really good!”

“It was a fantastic production and the graphics and animated sequences were truly outstanding. Pretty much perfect. You are some team. I am proud to work with you!”

“Amazing virtual event. The script, animations/illustrations and pre-recorded videos are fab.”


About RCVS

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is the regulatory body and Royal College for the UK veterinary and veterinary nursing professions. As a regulator, we set, uphold and advance veterinary standards. As a Royal College, we promote, encourage and advance the study and practice of the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine. We do all these things in the interests of animal health and welfare, and in the wider public interest.


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