The first winner of a new prize aimed at promoting veterinary science in Wales has been announced by Aberystwyth University.

Phoebe Smythe, 21, who is in the third year of her studies, is the first winner of the Nantyreira Prize, which was established thanks to a generous donation from the agriculturalist and leading figure in Welsh public life Tom Jones OBE.

The new annual prize, worth £300, is awarded to a student who serves as an exemplar for other students in their studies, work-life balance, peer-support and contribution to the profession and the School of Veterinary Science at Aberystwyth University.

The first cohort of vet students began their studies at Aberystwyth in 2021 and the School was officially opened by King Charles III. It is the only School of Veterinary Science in Wales.

Speaking about winning the award, Phoebe, who is originally from Worcestershire, said: “I am extremely proud to win this award and am so grateful for all the support I have received from Aberystwyth University.

“Awards like this make a big difference to us as students. I hope that other young people, realising that awards of such as this are available, will be motivated to study the subject.”

Mr Jones said: “The purpose of the award is to encourage people to join the course in Aberystwyth.­

“It is a small contribution that seeks to recognise the excellence of students on the course.

“I have named the award after the valley where I grew up – Nantyreira – which is an agricultural community that was threatened with flooding for a reservoir in the 1970s.

“There are excellent vets in the area, and the farmers are dependent on them.

“It is extremely important that these good vets work together with farmers in Wales so that they can produce food, which, after all, is vital for our whole society.”

Professor Darrell Abernethy, head of the School of Veterinary Science at Aberystwyth University said: “Many congratulations to Phoebe on excelling in her studies here in Aberystwyth.

“I would also like to thank Tom and the other very generous donors, who continue to make such an important contribution to the school’s work.

“Agriculture and its related industries play such an important part in the Welsh economy and it is incumbent on us to provide the people and skills that will contribute to ensuring they thrive for years to come.

“The School of Veterinary Science is adding a vitally important new piece of the jigsaw, one that is building resilience in the rural economy through education and research at a time of great potential change and challenges.”