Animal know-how wins Viv a Jubilee award

Vivienne Heys (left) was presented with her British Empire Medal by Bedfordshire Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis
Vivienne Heys (left) was presented with her British Empire Medal by Bedfordshire Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis

Training London Fire Brigade firefighters how to handle livestock has won a Luton woman the British Empire Medal, an award specially revived for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Royal Veterinary College departmental superintendent Vivienne Heys of Dunsmore Road was presented with the prestigious accolade by the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, at a ceremony in Woburn on Monday.

Ms Heys, who joined the RVC as a technician 38 years ago, said: “I’m proud to have been part of the training programme that will hopefully make firefighters’ interactions with horses and cattle in a rescue situation a little safer.”

The collaborative course, drawing on her extensive experience teaching students how to handle animals, was the first in the country.

It led to a training DVD and the development of a large animal rescue kit.

She added: “Although I’ve been involved in research, teaching, health and safety and, recently, in a more administrative role, I still like being outside in the barns when I can teaching horse handling to first years.”

A long-term member of the Society of Biology, she also has a keen interest in bats and their conservation.

This has led to her becoming prominent in the Bedfordshire Bat Group, leading regular bat walks.