The Ricky Wilson Award is awarded by RuVASA to an actively practising rural veterinarian who has consistently (for more than 20 years) rendered an excellent service to clients and served as a model and inspiration for fellow practitioners.
This year, the Ricky Wilson Award was presented to Dr Francois van Niekerk, who, has served the farmers in the Humansdorp area of the Eastern Cape for forty years. Essentially a sheep area, Dr Van Niekerk has assisted several dairy farms to grow large herds, two of which have consistently produced South African Friesian champions. He is also general secretary of the International Pig Veterinary Society and actively consults to piggeries in the Eastern Cape.
Dr van Niekerk has established several forums within his farming community; The South Eastern Cape Veterinary Study Group, the TB and CA (tuberculosis and brucellosis) Liaison Committee and The Ruminant Liaison Committee which is a discussion group for scientists, veterinarians and extensionists involved in ruminant production in the South Eastern Cape.
An astute businessman, he shares his knowledge of business management willingly with clients and colleagues. He also advises farmer study groups, has written many articles for the livestock industry and for the veterinary profession and organised symposia and congresses.
Dr van Niekerk was chairman of the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) Eastern Cape and Karoo Branch, twice chairman of the Livestock Health and Production Group (LHPG) – which became RuVASA – and has served on the executive committee, the board of directors and, currently, the federal council of the SAVA. In 2009 he won the Boswell Award for eminent service rendered to the veterinary profession through the SAVA.
A quiet, unassuming, thoughtful and considerate man, Dr Van Niekerk has served a rural community and the veterinary profession for forty years. He is an example of excellence to all who have had the pleasure and privilege to know him.
Caption: Dr Trish Oglesby, chairperson of RuVASA, awards Dr Francois van Niekerk with the 2019 Ricky Wilson Award trophy.