Who am I?
Aleen Cust was the first female veterinary surgeon in the UK and Ireland. Born in County Tipperary in 1868 she was the only daughter of a Baronet. Her father died when she was young - after which she was educated by her brothers’ tutor to spare her mother the expense of hiring a governess just for her. From a young age Cust expressed a desire to become a vet - something at that time unheard of for women. She enrolled at the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh under the name A.I.Custance - to spare her mother, a Woman of the Bedchamber in the court of Queen Victoria, any embarrassment.
Source: The Irish Times
I am monumental because...
Cust completed her studies in 1897. Despite winning a medal in zoology, she was prevented from sitting her final exam - so couldn’t become a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). She took the RCVS to court in Scotland - but the judge refused to rule as the College was based in England. Undeterred, she found work in a veterinary practice back in Ireland - where she was appointed veterinary inspector by Galway County Council. As she wasn’t a member, the RCVS objected to the appointment - and insisted that her position be called ‘inspector’, rather than ‘veterinary inspector’. She volunteered with the Veterinary Corps during the First World War - caring for war horses on the front. When the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was passed in 1919 the RCVS withdrew its objection to her membership. She took her final exams and became the College’s first female member in 1922. She died visiting friends in Jamaica in 1937.