Christianne Glossop recently achieved a lifelong ambition by completing a tandem parachute jump, and took the opportunity to raise money for two farming charities at the same time. She is also Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales.
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Your tandem parachute jump was a lifelong ambition. Why now?
There is a lot about the heavens that attracts me. I am inspired by the changing colours of the sky through the day, the cloud patterns, the sunset and the stars. I enjoyed a hot air balloon flight a few years ago, and have also tried parascending (lifting off behind a boat with mini parachute attached). A tandem parachute jump seemed like a natural progression. And, while ballooning is all about going up and along, the jump was all about coming down …
Do you have any similar ambitions?
I loved every single second of the tandem jump, and am wondering whether the next step should be to learn to parachute solo – although I am not sure where I will find the time to do this.
You ‘jumped’ in aid of Farm Crisis Network and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution? Why did you choose them?
I am sure that we all recognise the commitment, dedication and determination needed to face the daily grind of farming. Each of these charities provides support for farming families as they seek to resolve practical or emotional difficulties and I have every respect for the work that they do. I hope that my efforts will not only raise money for them both, but heighten their profile a little as well.*
How did you get to where you are today?
I wish I could say that I had planned my entire career from the outset, but that is not the case. Having set my heart on becoming a vet when I was 13 years old, I found a friend and mentor in a local vet, Jim Goodwin. He took me under his wing, letting me spend every Saturday with him. He saw me through college and is still there for me today.
Since then, I have taken opportunities as they have arisen and have thoroughly enjoyed a varied career as a result. I feel that I played my ‘wild card’ in applying for the Wales CVO job, and was proud to take up the challenge in 2005.
What do like about your job?
I love the challenges it presents and the opportunity to make a difference. I love the fact that every day is different, and that the size of Wales allows close working relationships between all with an interest and a passion in raising standards of animal health and welfare.
Why is your job important?
Devolution of animal health and welfare powers in 2005 gave Wales scope to drive forward its own agenda in this important area. It is a privilege to contribute to this work.
What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career?
I always advise vet students and new graduates to gain experience in general practice first before even considering ‘giving themselves up’ to the Government Veterinary Service – or specialising in any other area for that matter.
What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?
‘Make sure you can look yourself in the mirror in the morning’. In other words, it is essential to believe in what you are doing, to be able to justify it to yourself. This helps me when times are tricky, and also helps me to sleep at nights.
What was your proudest moment?
There are many proud family moments – the birth of my children, Ben and Jess, their graduations, Ben's wedding this year … But from a professional perspective, my proudest moment has to be the day I qualified as a vet – everything else I have ever done has flowed from there.
What do you do when you are not being a CVO?
I have to say that there is never really a time when I am not ‘CVO Wales’. The dreaded call regarding an animal disease emergency can come at any time, and often at the weekend. This plays havoc with other activities, although I do walk the local cider orchards with my black labrador, Moses, watch rugby and enjoy good food and wine.
My other hobby is wedding floristry, which provides an opportunity to be creative. There have been moments when my two worlds have collided, such as when a wedding coincides with a disease outbreak, but I am pleased to say that I have never let a bride down.
* There is still time to sponsor Christianne's parachute jump. This can be done online at www.justgiving.com/Christianne-Glossop
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