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Free books for Scottish primary schools

Every Scottish primary school has being given a free copy of Shona the Vet, a picture book written and illustrated by a vet from Moray, to inspire children as young as P1 to consider going into the profession.

The project comes as a new HND course 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.

Shona the Vet has been sent to every primary school 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.

Dr Karen Gardiner founded Future Vets Scotland in 2023, she said, “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 advisers; and links to the admissions teams in all three Scottish vet schools.”

The book’s author, Catherine Stables, from Keith, Moray, who’s been a vet for nearly 25 years, said: “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.”

Recent graduate Joanna Wilson reading Shona the Vet to P1 pupils.

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