The British Poultry Veterinary Association (BPVA) was presented with a special merit award at this week’s British Poultry Council (BPC) awards ceremony in London, in recognition of the profession’s work in containing avian influenza.

According to BPC chairman John Reed, the three outbreaks experienced in the UK since November 2014 had cost the sector more than £50m in lost income and clean-up costs, and it was a case of “when, not if” the disease would strike again.

See also: Ex-jockey wins Zoetis/British Poultry Council training award

“Avian influenza is the single biggest threat to the British poultry industry,” he said. “During each outbreak, the industry has called on the support of members of the BVPA who have worked tirelessly to help those individuals and businesses affected.

“We wanted to recognise their outstanding contribution to the poultry sector for their guidance in contingency planning and their invaluable knowledge and expertise.”

But Mr Reed also called on government to maintain adequate resources to manage a disease outbreak.

“With the 15% cost savings at Defra, we must make sure this does not result in significant losses of expertise,” he said. “Our industry is ready and able to assume more responsibility and the BPC now has agreement in place with contractors to improve culling and disposal.

“We look to government to continue its chief function to facilitate growth in exports, while minimising trade disruption during a disease outbreak.”

Junior environment minister Mark Spencer applauded the work the poultry sector was doing, both on animal welfare and disease control, describing it as “world leading”.

The BPC awards recognise long and distinguished careers, contributions to research and potential for future excellence.

David-Welchman-with-Mark-Spencer-MPDavid Welchman accepted a special merit award on behalf of the British Veterinary Poultry Association for its support of contingency planning and disease response following outbreaks of avian influenza.

terry-motley-(left)-with-Mark-Spencer-MP

Terry Motley received a distinguished service award for his contribution to the turkey sector, including the development of the Quality British Turkey standard.

Martin-Shea-with-Mark-Spencer-MP

Martin Shea was awarded a distinguished service award for his integral role in ensuring Hockenhull (part of Aviagen Turkeys) is now the largest supplier of specialist breeds on the UK Christmas poult market.

Jim-McAdam-with-Mark-Spencer-MP

Jim McAdam received a distinguished service award for his contributions to the genetic improvement of breeder-broilers and being instrumental in developing the Ross 308.

Andrew-Gibson-with-Mark-Spencer-MP

Andrew Gibson was given a mid-career award for his dedication and the enthusiasm reflected in his successful career and progression in the industry.

Gillian-Hepburn-Cherrie-with-Mrk-Spencer-MP

Gillian Hepburn Cherrie received the BPC Scholarship Award for her research into gastro-intestinal health and eggshell quality of pure-line broilers.