Dame Olga Nikolaevna Uvarov, DBE, FRCVS (9 July 1910 – 29 August 2001) was a veterinary surgeon and clinical researcher. She was the first woman president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She was a distinguished member of the veterinary profession in every sense, spanning general practice and animal health research as well as veterinary politics and high-level contributions to enlightened legislation affecting animal welfare.
Biography before emigrating to the UK
Olga Nikolaevna Uvarov was born in Moscow on 9 July 1910, the daughter of a prosperous lawyer. Their mother died and their father was executed by a revolutionary tribunal. Orphaned, she and her brothers lived together in one room, foraging for food and witnessing horrors they would never forget. But they had an uncle in London, the entomologist Boris Uvarov (later Sir Boris Uvarov, KCMG), who had heard the children were still alive.
The American Red Cross located the children for him, but such was the cost of getting people out of Russia at that time that he could afford only to pay the costs for one child. After much heart-searching, he selected Olga; she was escorted to Estonia and put on a ship for England. Boris Uvarov was horrified by the state of his waif-like niece when she arrived in England; she was without hair or fingernails, and suffering from malaria.
She studied at the University of London Royal Veterinary College, where she won the college's Bronze Medals for Physiology and Histology and qualified in 1934. She began her small practice after graduating.
Uvarov was named as President of the Society of Women Veterinary Surgeons from 1947 to 1949, and of the Central Veterinary Society from 1951-52. She was awarded the Victory Gold Medal of the Central Veterinary Society in 1965. She was elected to the council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1968, and became a fellow in 1973. She took over as the first woman president of the RCVS in 1976. She was also Vice-President of the Institute of Animal Technicians.
Scholarships and philanthropy in her name
The Dame Olga Uvarov Research Medal, worth £1000, is a philanthropy named in her honour.
In 2000 the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Trust launched an appeal for funds to commemorate Uvarov's life of leadership in veterinary science. The Trust's Dame Olga Uvarov Travel Scholarship was established to provide grants (presumably for potential veterinary students) until the trust is depleted.[when?]
Never married, her last years were spent in a nursing home at Hatch End until her death at age 91 on 29 August 2001.