Somerset veterinary surgeon Julian Kupfer has been appointed as the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) new board chair.

The AWF British Veterinary Association’s charity and is directed by veterinary and animal welfare professionals.

Kupfer has been involved with the charity for many years: he originally joined as a trustee in 2016 and has served as deputy chair since 2019.

“I am daunted and thrilled in equal measure to become chair of AWF; this is a most significant cause of genuine importance to me and it truly is a privilege to have been appointed,” said Kupfer

It comes as no surprise that it is a challenging time for the charitable sector and the veterinary profession, but I hope to build on all the exceptional work from the AWF team and board and feel ready for the tasks that lie ahead.”

Kupfer graduated from the University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Science in 1980 and worked as a partner in a large veterinary hospital in the South West for ten years.

After leaving practice, he has worked in senior management in the service sector industry, gained a Masters in medical law, and spent many years in the pharmaceutical industry. He is now an independent consultant providing veterinary, technical and marketing advice to pharma companies in companion animal and livestock sectors.

“I don’t think any of us can go through veterinary practice without sometimes seriously reflecting on welfare issues we have met or perhaps realising one hasn’t given certain welfare aspects enough thought or made mistakes – I hold my hands up here and some memories still haunt me,” Kupfer continued.

“An understanding of welfare is not something that can be gained from a book or a seminar, but comes from continuous learning and engagement.

That’s why I am fortunate to be part of AWF in that we will air and debate sometimes uncomfortable issues and commission relevant high-quality, evidence-based research with an egalitarian approach. Our activity with students is an area I particularly enjoy and believe helps encourage their thinking about welfare to the betterment of our profession and the animals under our care."

“Of course, this comes at a cost: AWF has funded almost £2 million worth of research and we need to raise more funds so we can continue and increase the amount of research we commission. Our work is entirely funded by donations, legacies and corporate sponsors, so we are reliant on the generosity of our supporters."

Outgoing chair Chris Laurence said he has “every confidence” in Kupfer to fill his shoes.

“Being chair of AWF has been a highlight of my career and I have been proud to be part of the charity. I am sad to be stepping down but I have every confidence that Julian will continue to steer the charity in the right direction and wish him all the best for his time in the role,” he said.