The Athenian Helmet (also referred to as the “Dragon Helmet”) is arguably the most unusual award within the veterinary profession.
The Athenian Helmet was purchased in November 2010 in the Plaka area of Athens when two FECAVA directors were looking for a fare-well present for the long-serving Swiss Director Peter Sterchi.
With only 1/2 hour to fulfill this task they found not just one, but two outfits/helmets and decided that the helmet would remain with the FECAVA to honor outstanding personalities of our organisation.
The helmet is completely different from any other prize or award a veterinary surgeon can get.
The five points of the helmet symbolise the secrets of finding fulfilments in veterinary work: Fun (most of all), Education, Compassion, Communication and Lifelong Learning.
It is handed out – admittedly a little bit “tongue in cheek” – to a former director or board member or otherwise FECAVA affiliated person as a token of respect and admiration not only for their achievements but also for their conduct among colleagues and as a veterinary surgeon and a human being as a whole.
With other words it is something special for one night for someone we love and to someone we are very grateful to.
The award is not sponsored (and never will be …) and is usually handed out only once a year.
Who will get the award is the sole decision of the sitting FECAVA Board. You cannot apply for it, you cannot be nominated for it and you can (really …) not refuse it.
No-one -other than the FECAVA Board knows when the helmet will be awarded the next time and how it will be awarded. The helmet just appears out of the blue and then vanishes again….
As unusual as the award is in itself, is also the way it is presented.
To give a few examples: In 2011 the Helmet was awarded during an epic ball night in the “Hall of thousand columns” in the heart of Istanbul, in 2013 the helmet appeared among Irish Dancers in Dublin, in 2014 it was carried through the Hofbräuhaus in Munich by a column of Franciscan monks. The next year a Professor of the Islandic Vet School (he was a bit strange and was later found out to be a fraud …) smuggled it into the banquet hall in Senec in Slovakia. The following year the helmet had to be replaced – as a one-off -by a special “Viennese Helmet” very kindly lent by the Viennese Opera to a waiter in the town hall of Vienna to be presented to the lucky recipient….
Heaven knows where the helmet is now, who the next recipient will be and when and especially – how – it will find its way to the FECAVA President to be handed out (for one night only …) again …
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