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A Division of the British Veterinary Association

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The McCunn Memorial Prize

by Professor John Bleby

Professor James McCunn, or 'Jimmy' as he was known by all in the RVC, was Professor of Anatomy for very many years.  In addition to having veterinary qualifications, he was also medically qualified - a rare combination.  He was Vice-Principal following the sudden death of Professor Buxton until Professor R. E. Glover was appointed.

From the Central's point of view Jimmy was a staunch supporter and dragooned many students (including myself) into it, particularly as its meetings were held at the College.  He was the Hon. Treasurer, member of council, past president etc.

Jimmy was also extremely kind to students and a sort of father-figure.  He started a fund which helped many students through a bad patch when they ran out of money or had to repeat examinations etc.  There are many veterinary surgeons today who would not have qualified had it not been for the help they received from Jimmy.  He also remembered that veterinary surgery is a practical science, not all theory, and his anatomical drawings were a masterpiece.  His instructions on lameness in the horse were never forgotten.

In 1969 Jimmy died unexpectedly, shortly after he retired, and the Central immediately established a fund in his memory and registered it as a charity.  I am one of its founding trustees.  Initially there were two prizes: the James McCunn Memorial Prize in surgical anatomy for final year students, consisting of a cheque for £25 and a presentation copy of Stubbs' Anatomy of the Horse; and the James McCunn Dissection Prize in veterinary anatomy for first year students, which was a cheque for £10.  In October 1984, CVS Council voted to alter the terms of the prize so that the Memorial Prize consisted of the book alone, while the Dissection Prize became £25. At some time after that, the value of the latter was increased again to £50.  Unfortunately, American publishers plagiarised the Stubbs volume to such an extent that the original format is no longer published.  The book was therefore replaced by the Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists.

In December 2003 CVS Council noted that the prize appeared to be in abeyance, as no reports had been received for some time.  At the following meeting in January 2004 the Hon. Treasurer reported that in fact the award was still continuing, and that he supplied a cheque every year at the request of the RVC's Head of Registry.  However, in view of the recent lack of contact between the Society and the awarding of the prize, Council decided to change the conditions of the award, and these changes were ratified by CVS Council on 2nd March 2004.

The new name was to be the "McCunn Memorial Prize", and it was to be awarded annually to the President of the Students' Union at the RVC.  The recipient would be invited to dinner at a CVS meeting for the prize to be presented in person, and would also be awarded honorary Fellowship until one year after graduation.  This would enable links to be built up with younger members of the profession of a political bent, something which would surely have met with Professor McCunn's approval.

McCunn Prizewinners

  Memorial Prize Dissection Prize
1969 Mr. D. A. Dyson Mr. C. P. Ellis
1970 Mr. R. McNeill Mr. A. J. Rogers
1971 Miss D. J. Selfe Mr. R. C. D. Helme
1972 Miss E. A, Willerton Mr. A. C. Pickles
1973 Mr. D. A. Charlton Mr. P. J. Malin
1974 Mr. C. J. Giles Miss S. E. Manning
1975 Mr. D. W. T. Morgan Mr. R. H. Balkwill
1976 Mr. M. Grace Mr. C. G. Heslop
1977 Miss E. S. Philo Miss R. M. Lightfoot
1978 Mr. J. A. Knight Mr. N. G. Norman
1979 Mr. K. J. Dalby Mr. R. J. F. Williams
1980 Mr. C. G. Heslop Mr. J. Marcus
1981 Mr. P. J. Markwell Miss H. W. Brooks
1982 Mr. A. G. Vicarage Mr. D. S. Babbington
1983 Miss S. M. Williamson Mr. R. J. M. Franklin
1984 Miss S. E. Clarkson no award
1985 Miss J. S. Barber no award
1986-2003 records missing
2003 Miss C. White
2004-05 Mr. M. Gull
2005-06 Mr. S. Paterson
2006-07 Miss V. Collingwood

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