About BVCS

The British Veterinary Camelid Society was established in 1994 in response to the growing interest in keeping new world camelids in the UK. BVCS provide a central source of information and advice to ensure the highest standards of clinical care for all camelids in the UK.

BVCS comprises a group of vets and researchers with a particular interest in camelid medicine, surgery, and welfare. This is focused primarily on alpacas and llamas, but also includes guanacos, vicuñas, and camels.

Membership of the BVCS is open to all vets, vet students and researchers with an interest in camelids. Members get our regular newsletter updates, are able to attend conference, and can access helpful clinical downloads, past conference proceedings and our lively online Facebook discussion group.

The BVCS is always happy to give advice but can liaise only with fellow professionals when it comes to clinical specifics. Owners can ask their vet to make contact or, better still, encourage them to apply for membership of the BVCS.


The BVCS is run by a volunteer board:


claire whitehead

Claire Whitehead: President

Claire completed a Residency in Large Animal Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University in July 2005. After a further year at Ohio State as a clinical instructor in Camelid Medicine and Reproduction, she returned to the UK in 2007 where she established the first referral service catering specifically for Camelids alongside other farm animals at The Royal Veterinary College. In May 2011, she set up in private practice running a camelid-only referral and consultancy practice and runs courses for vets and owners/breeders on Camelid Health and Reproduction. She opened a camelid-focussed facility in Summer 2015. She is the current President of the British Veterinary Camelid Society and was recognized as an RCVS Specialist in Camelid Health & Production in February 2016.

james adams

James Adams: Chair

James, a 2006 Liverpool Graduate, worked as a cattle vet in the UK and NZ, before moving to RVC in 2012 as staff clinician in farm animal medicine. This signalled the arrival of camelids into his life, in large part due to Claire’s legacy. They provided the perfect stimulation needed as he learned about a novel species with few pre-conceptions. His job was supplemented with a residency, with alpacas forming the bulk of in-patients at the only UK referral centre providing imaging, camelid knowledge, and the 24/7 care needed. James moved to Langford in 2018 and, back in ambulatory practice, visited camelids to help prevent problems seen in hospital. James is now a farm vet locum aiming to impart camelid knowledge to willing ears at whichever practice he is working at. Camelids are fairly logical once you combine the British climate with their latino sensibilities! James is a large animal diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and gained fellowship of the Higher Education Authority in 2014.


Ami Sawran: Secretary

Ami graduated from Liverpool University in 2011 before undertaking a production animal internship and later a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College. Ami has worked in farm practice ever since, and holds a Certificate in Advanced Camelid Practice. She is the lead of the Camelid Clinical Interest Group at VetPartners, and conducts research alongside clinical practice, and teaching of vets and vet students in camelid medicine. Ami undertakes first and second opinion camelid work from her clinic in Essex, and is an RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Camelid Practice.

Fay Pooley

Fay Pooley: Education Rep

Fay graduated from the university of Nottingham in 2013 and went in to farm practice in the midlands. Growing her enthusiasm for camelids over the years she completed her Certificate in Advanced Camelid Practice in 2019.

emily rainbow

Emily Rainbow: Treasurer

Emily graduated from the University of Bristol in 2014 and is currently working as a mixed species practitioner in Angus and Perthshire (Scotland). Her interest in working with camelids began early as a vet student whilst shadowing, and then later an employee of the late Andrew Starnes in East Sussex. She really enjoys the ability to combine approaches to individual animal medicine and surgery, alongside herd health management strategies in treating camelid species. When not at work you'll find Emily out Hiking with her terrier Squid or riding her horse Razz. Emily volunteered to act as co-secretary/treasurer for the BVCS in 2017 before moving to a treasurer-only position in 2024.

Rebecca Edwards


Rebecca Edwards: Member at Large

Rebecca qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 2009, staying until 2011 to undertake two farm internships. During this time Rebecca caught the camelid bug whilst working alongside Claire Whitehead in the RVC’s Farm Animal Clinical Centre. Since then Rebecca has enjoyed developing her skills and experience in private practice. She was awarded the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (Camelid Practice) in 2017 and continues to appreciate the challenges of applying best practice to varied situations. Rebecca has been an active BVCS member since qualifying, presenting cases at conferences and being sponsored by BCL to attend the International Camelid Health Conference in 2012. She was BVCS Joint Secretary from 2017-24 and as of April 2024 sits on the BVCS Board as Member at Large.


The BVCS Annual Conference


The BVCS host an annual conference, which coincides biannually with our European colleagues’ congress.

The 2024 conference will be held in Shrewsbury, England from the 15th-17th November 2024, overseen by David Thurston and Karin Mueller.


The 2025 European conference will be held in Cambridge, England in September 2025, overseen by Elly Po.