It is with great sadness that we have been informed of the death of our friend and colleague Kate Borer-Weir following a short period of illness. Kate’s colleagues at the RVC have written some words and sent some photos of their memories.
The Executive Committee and the AVA send their deepest sympathy to Kate’s family and friends.
Katherine (Kate) Borer-Weir
We are very sorry to inform her very many friends in the veterinary anaesthetic community of the death of Kate Borer-Weir following a very short illness (very aggressive angiosarcoma).
Kate qualified as a vet from Liverpool University in 1999 and was inspired by Prof Ron Jones to specialize in anaesthesia- although a shared love for football, in particular as played by Liverpool, may have had something to do with it! On qualifying Kate spent two years working in mixed practice in Essex, before coming to the Royal Veterinary College as Resident in Equine Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, funded by the Horse’s Trust. The majority of Kate’s work was with horses, and she was a leading light among a dynamic group of young equine vets who were interested in equine anaesthesia and medicine- in particular Gayle Hallowell, Mark Bowen and John Burford, of whom took their Certificates in Veterinary Anaesthesia (as of course did Kate) but have since made their mark in the field of equine medicine and surgery respectively. With this hard working, enthusiastic but always cheerful group, the atmosphere in the equine department was superb for all, staff and students, despite the long hours and night work required.
Relaxed- Awaiting the decision of a surgeon about a colic.
Kate’s equine research project looked at the use of hyoscine as a short acting anticholinergic drug to treat bradycardia in equine anaesthesia. During her Residency Kate also spent a month at a big equine practice (Troytown) in Ireland to get more experience of intensive care in foals. The small animal requirements of her Residency were achieved by placements in the Queen Mother Hospital, where she became a valued member of the team – indeed they were always sad to see her return to Equine.
At the end of her Residency, Kate obtained her ECVAA (she was the first anaesthesia Resident from the RVC to pass the ECVAA examination), and also the RCVS Diploma in Veterinary Anaesthesia (the last year this exam was held). She then was appointed a Lecturer in Veterinary Anaesthesia by the RVC, working both in the equine and small animal hospitals. She loved teaching, both lecturing and teaching anaesthesia around cases to Residents, undergraduate students and nurses. She supervised and co-supervised several Residents and was an excellent mentor of Residency research projects, resulting in a number of peer review papers in a variety of anaesthesia topics. In clinics she was always a pleasure with whom to work, and in particular she really cared about her nursing staff. She was part of the 2005 team to perform anaesthesia for cardiopulmonary bypass surgery in a clinical case. It was a huge joint effort from RVC teams supported by the Colorado State University, and this pioneering work has paved the way for the current cardiopulmonary open-heart surgery programme at the RVC. Kate also played her part in the administration of the anaesthesia speciality, contributing to examinations, and twice being part of the organisational team when London hosted AVA meetings.
Kate realized that in academia you need a PhD, so she moved fields to a more equine medicine related topic and successfully gained her PhD in laminitis and insulin resistance in ponies in 2011. She undertook a wide range of studies to determine whether insulin resistance could be used to identify animals prone to laminitis, a painful condition of the equine foot. Her studies resulted in five excellent peer-reviewed publications that made a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in this area of equine science. She always undertook her research with a smile and was happiest when undertaking field studies with the ponies.
Kate’s smile at work
Kate returned to her position of Lecturer in Anaesthesia. However, she met Peter, and in 2010 they were married in a beautiful ceremony in Oxford. Following her maternity leave, she decided that she would devote her time to being a mum, and resigned her position as Lecturer. However, she did not give up on anaesthesia. She wrote a major chapter on analgesia for the 11thedition of the text book ‘Veterinary Anaesthesia’. In recent years she contributed a huge amount to the RVC’s CPD programme running several very popular online courses relating to equine anaesthesia and pain management. She was also an assessor for the RVC’s CertAVP B module and anaesthesia C modules. She was a key player in preparing the RVC for the reaccreditation visits from RCVS, AVMA, EEAVE and AVBC last autumn through her involvement in an extensive learning outcome and assessment mapping project. Her commitment to the project and attention to detail was awe inspiring.
Despite the massive time pressures of working in veterinary anaesthesia, Kate had many hobbies. She took up running and completed the Great North Run. Horses remained a hobby as well as work- her holidays often were very adventurous riding holidays – for example she did the BHS sponsored ride across Jordan, and after a riding Safari in Africa, she recounted being ‘carted’ as the horses very sensibly took to their heels on seeing a bull elephant in the long grass. On a trekking holiday in the Spanish Sierra Guara she was able to indulge her hobby of photography taking pictures of the spectacular scenery and the really beautiful spring flowers.
Kate riding in Spain.
Kate is a huge loss to veterinary science, to the speciality of veterinary anaesthesia, and to teaching. She will be missed by her colleagues, and by many vets who were her students during their time at the RVC. She had so much more to contribute. However, the greatest loss is to her husband Peter, and to their two small children, William (age nearly 6) and Elizabeth (aged 3). We send them our heartfelt condolences and our greatest sympathy.
Kate’s friends and colleagues at the RVC.