Jessica Dixon, Centre Manager
Having worked for Conquest Centre since 2000, starting as a Head Groom, Jess has worked her way up to Centre Manager. Her experience of every role in the Centre enables her to ensure our smooth running and continuing success. Previously an RDA County Instructor and a care, Jess understands what the Centre needs to keep ticking. That, coupled with her enthusiasm and passion for what we do, makes her the driving force behind keeping the Centre a forward-thinking and progressive place to be.
Jess is most likely to be found in the office, with a phone glued to her ear and a small orange dog under her desk.
Chantal Bannister, Senior Instructor and Resident Nerd
Chantal is an RDAGI instructor qualified in the Horse Boy Method, has trained to back ride at canter and is our back-riding co-ordinator. Specialising in working with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Chantal and therapy horse Dylan work together to help children get the most of their sessions. Chantal’s one-to-one sessions are child-led, involve the whole family and take place outside as much as possible. A firm believer in movement in learning, sensory work and the value of simply being with the horse, Chantal’s sessions are usually less about learning to ride and more about being together.
Chantal sometimes wears an IT hat too. Prior to this job, she gained a BSc(Hons) in Computer Science and worked in the IT industry for 15 years, so helps out with website updates, social media, database programming, mending printers, straightening cables, counting mousemats and anything else geeky that comes along.
Chantal is most likely to be found talking to anyone who will listen about brain science.
Kate Blackmore, Deputy Manager
Having taught children and adults of all ages in Japan, Kate has gained many skills in overcoming communication barriers. Specialising in one-to-one bespoke sessions, Kate works closely with other therapists in order to provide a top service to her clients. Kate is an RDAGI running group sessions for children with learning and physical challenges. She is also the Centre Instructor Co-Ordinator.
In addition to this, Kate has become our honorary chicken keeper, and can often be found researching chicken food, chicken houses, chicken toys….
Kate is most likely to be found walking her funny half-womble dog Foosa, or checking the chickens.
Georgi Readman, Groom
Georgi grew up on the Isle of Wight, and has ridden since the age of 4. She joined Conquest Centre as a student 2 years ago, completing a Work Based Diploma Level 1 & 2 in Horse Care. Once Georgi completed her training, Conquest employed her as a Groom and she is now a fully fledged member of staff!
When she is not working on the yard, Georgi is most likely to be found riding Annie, her favourite pony. When not work, you will find Georgi looking very different indeed dressed in vintage clothing!
Gemma Adams, Head Groom
Susan Brown, Development Manager
Susan has been working in the voluntary sector for almost 30 years and has broad experience of charity administration, grant-making and fundraising. She has worked for a number of large national charities as well as several local Somerset organisations. Susan is focusing on the enormous task of planning and funding some very exciting developments for Conquest Centre which will be taking place over the next five years.
As the new girl, Susan is most likely to be found asking lots of questions!
Helen Simcock-Anthony, Administrator
Helen came to Conquest in 2011 as a volunteer. Her experience of organising conferences and weddings soon came in handy as she took over running the show-jumping, dressage and showing events. She now updates processes, regulates paperwork and manages the main reception whilst supporting Jess and the Board of Trustees. Helen also writes press releases and basically makes sure all our ducks are in a line. Because of this, we have coined the phrase ‘We need to Helen-ise it!’
Helen is most likely to be found trying to herd cats, or near a whiteboard with a pen in her hand.
Rhoda Lock, Community Fundraiser
James Holyday, Chairman
James is a Director of Summerfield, a regional development company, with extensive experience of construction and property management. He became involved with Conquest Centre in 2006 and joined the Board of Trustees as Chairman in 2008. He enjoys the challenge of working with a local ‘grass roots’ charity and especially the fundraising and management of the Centre.
David Hardy, Treasurer
David has been involved with Conquest Centre for a many years, as he is Jess’s step-father! He has been drafted in to help out with many things from building our first website, to directing traffic at events. So it was only right that he became a member of the Board of Trustees. In Sept 2008 David was elected treasurer. He works in the electronics industry, and is a keen pilot so keep your eyes peeled in the skies above Taunton!
Sandra Wickham, Educational Advisor
Sandra became involved in Conquest Centre in 2002 as a volunteer after she retired from teaching PE (which she’d done for 38 years in Derbyshire and Somerset). She became an instructor in 2005 and joined the Board of Trustees in 2008. In addition to helping at Conquest Centre, she coaches 5 to 18 year old girls and boys at a local hockey club. She has 2 children, a number of animals, enjoys gardening and sings in a local choral society.
Lois Kerrison, Technical Advisor
Lois originally got involved with Conquest Centre as a volunteer and then a Disabled Riding Instructor after moving to Somerset from London, with her husband and 2 daughters. As well as her daughters learning to ride at Conquest Centre, Lois also took up the sport and now has 2 horses and 2 ponies.
Since giving up work to raise a family, Lois has completed two degrees and has retrained as a Secondary Maths teacher and currently works at a comprehensive school in Weston-Super-mare. Before children, Lois worked for a successful international software company as a Global Training Manager.
Claire Stoneman, Trustee
Claire is a Solicitor and Partner with Foot Anstey LLP, leading the clinical negligence team in the Taunton office. She specialises in brain injury cases and birth injury cases leading to cerebral palsy. She has represented a number of families over the years, helping them to arrange rehabilitation, ongoing care, therapies and financial support.
Claire became involved with the Conquest Centre in 2013 and joined the Board of Trustees in 2016. She is also a Trustee and Vice-Chair of Headway Somerset. She has a life-long love of horses (despite having had a cantankerous New Forest pony as a child!) and, as such, is keen to help the Centre continue to thrive.