Animal Health and Welfare Board for England

The Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) is responsible for strategic animal health and welfare policy, and oversight of implementation in relation to England, taking account of public health considerations.

Role of the group

The Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) is the principal source of departmental advice to Defra ministers on all strategic health and welfare matters relating to all kept animals in England.

The Board’s role is to set the strategic policy framework, using it as the basis for day-to-day advice to ministers and day-to-day operational actions.

The board has strategic oversight of Defra policy in England in relation to:

  • animal health
  • animal welfare
  • those public health implications of animal diseases that fall within Defra’s remit
  • transmission of disease to humans via animals
  • all kept animals (including companion animals and aquaculture)

The health of circus and zoo animals falls within scope in relation to disease prevention matters only. Advice on the welfare of circus and zoo animals will be covered by officials in Defra.


The board’s responsibilities include:

  • developing and implementing animal health and welfare policy and ensuring value for money
  • assessing of the risk of threats from animal disease and what the surveillance and research priorities should be
  • monitoring the regulatory framework
  • approving the operational plans of the Animal and Plant Health Agency and other bodies
  • reviewing contingency plans for dealing with new disease outbreaks

For more details about the governance and remit of the AHWBE, see the terms of reference. This also includes details of the sub-groups on finance and strategy.


AHWBE brings together independent people with relevant knowledge and skills, and senior government officials:


  • Jonathan Statham, Chairman and Partner of the Bishopton Veterinary Group (an XL Vets independent practice)

Non-executive members

  • Peter Laurie, Chief Executive Officer of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
  • Gwyn Jones, farmer and the Vice Chair of Ruminant Health and Welfare (group)
  • James Russell, independent veterinary consultant
  • John Reed, farmer and a non-executive director of Avara Foods
  • Charles Sercombe, farmer and a trustee of the National Sheep Association
  • Julia Wrathall, independent animal welfare consultant

Each non-executive member of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England is responsible for engagement and communication with a portfolio of internal and external stakeholders. These are listed in the current annual report.

Read the register of board member’s interests.

Executive members

  • Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer
  • Dr Jenny Stewart, Interim Chief Executive of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
  • Gareth Baynham-Hughes, Director, Animal and Plant Health and Welfare
  • Emily Cattell, Deputy Director for Animal and Plant Health and Welfare Evidence and Analysis
  • Ele Brown, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer for national, domestic and exotic diseases

Recommendations to Defra ministers

The AHWBE has made a number of recommendations on strategic policy affecting the health and welfare of kept animals in England, which Defra ministers have accepted.

Defra ministers expect to accept the advice agreed by the board. If, in exceptional circumstances, Defra ministers decide not to accept the board’s advice, they make public the reasons for taking a different view.


You can access all our publications in this document collection.


AHWBE produces a regular newsletter that contains a summary of topics discussed at meetings.

To receive the newsletter, sign up to the distribution list by emailing

Minutes of meetings

AHWBE no longer publishes minutes of meetings. Previous minutes of meetings are available on the National Archives website.

Contact details