Susanna Williamson honoured with David Black Award 2016

Dr Susanna Williamson, of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), is the recipient of this year’s David Black Award. 

Nominated for making “a valuable and sustained contribution to the British pig industry”, she received her award at an industry breakfast, attended by politicians, members of the House of Lords, senior civil servants and members of the industry, held in the House of Lords. It was presented by Lord Gardiner (pictured, left), Defra Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the House of Lords.

Williamson (pictured, centre) has been based in APHA Bury St Edmunds since 2000, moving there just weeks before the Classical Swine Fever outbreak, and has been involved in the diagnosis and investigation of many disease outbreaks in pigs, as well as projects on bacterial and viral diseases of pigs. She leads scanning surveillance activities at APHA to detect, investigate and tackle new and emerging disease threats in pigs, such as virulent porcine epidemic diarrhoea, as well as understanding diseases already in our pigs.

She said: “I didn’t even know I had been nominated and that would have surprised me, let alone finding out that I would receive the award.

“I do appreciate the honour, but really owe this award to my colleagues. I can only fulfil my role in pig disease surveillance and investigation through working as part of a team within APHA, and also with colleagues in the pig industry and pig veterinary community.”

She added that disease surveillance was best done in partnership.

“It is important to recognise that successful disease surveillance is about working in partnership, and also requires access to a wide range of veterinary, scientific and technical expertise. This is especially important as the industry strives to address disease issues and minimise antimicrobial use.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so producers need to consult their veterinary and other advisers to choose interventions customised to their pigs and their farms. I have been hearing from colleagues in practice of some excellent progress and would encourage examples of cost-effective working, but there is still some way to go.”

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