Scone's Dr Bill Howey awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to veterinary science

SINCE moving to Australia more than 50 years ago, Dr William (Bill) Howey has lived a life of service, enriched through his dedication and contribution to veterinary science.

In that time Mr Howey has made a home out of Scone in the Upper Hunter, where he has been instrumental in the establishment of what is now one of the largest providers of equine veterinary services of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, the Scone Equine Group.

It’s for his service to this practice, and veterinary science as a whole, that Mr Howey has today been awarded one of the nation’s highest honours - a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Mr Howey joined the Scone Equine Hospital when it was a small veterinary practice in 1967.

“I joined a veterinarian there called Murray Bain,” he explained.

“He was a Scott and a graduate of the same university as myself. He was a Second World War veteran and came to Scone in 1950.”

Mr Howey first heard Murray Bain speak at a conference in Edinburgh in 1965, which he says “wetted his appetite”.

“He spoke on some veterinary components of the thoroughbred industry and he was talking about Scone, NSW, in Australia,” he said.

“And, I thought well I might like to go there.”

Mr Bain set up what was the first veterinary practice in the township and locality together with a fellow called Frank Williams, and later Mr Howey.

After working with the group as a veterinary practitioner for the next 30 years, Mr Howey then went on to extend his portfolio as an educator in the field, joining the NSW TAFE system and university sector as a lecturer at the University of Sydney and through his involvement in the Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science.

He has also been named a life member of a number of national organisations, including the Australian Veterinary Association, the Australian Equine Veterinary Association and the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, an honorary member of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW and is a Scone Horse Festival VIP.

With a passion for writing and sharing history, Mr Howey is the author of numerous published books in the field of equine veterinary science.

They include The Infinitive History of Veterinary Practice in Scone and A History of Throughbred Breeding in the Upper Hunter Valley.

He has also written two family histories, a memoir and published countless articles.

The author and veterinarian continues to write and dedicate his life to research through his website ‘Scone Vet Dynasty’.

Being named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List  only compliments the many medals and awards Mr Howey has received, including the 1995 Hunter Valley Blood Horse Breeders Association President’s Award, the 1995 Hunter McLoughlin Citizen of the Year, the Australian Equine Veterinarian Association Literary Award and Excellence in Equine Veterinary Field and the 1995 Hunter Valley Breeders Association President’s Award for ‘Contribution to Industry, to name a few.  

Despite these achievements, Mr Howey insists he is just an “ordinary bloke” and his biggest contribution in life has been his family - his wife Sarah who he shares a home with in Scone; his two children, Kirsty and Hugh and his three grandchildren.

“My initial reaction when I saw the letter was enormous surprise,” he admitted.

“I didn’t know anything at all about it and then this came out of the blue.

“Some of them are well worn clichés like humility - but, yes, I feel enormously honoured and feel huge gratitude for many reasons.”