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.
CHANTAL BANNISTER: SENIOR COACH, THRIVE PRACTITIONER & RESIDENT NERD
Chantal is an RDAGI instructor qualified in Horse Boy Method and Movement Method, and is our back riding specialist. 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: EQUINE BEHAVIOURIST & TRAINER
Having studied with the Natural Animal Centre and gaining her Equine Behaviour Stage 1 qualification, Kate ensures that our equine team are having their needs met, whether it be creating barn systems, teaching about equine behaviour or working on enrichment plans, Kate’s priority is the happiness of the horses. It’s not an easy job, implementing force free training and more natural management systems into a business environment is a task in itself but Kate’s passion for the job helps to inspire the team. She has put together an enrichment team to help support the needs of the equines, this is a crucial part of the centre’s running as caring for the wellbeing of the horses and donkeys ensure all the services at the Conquest Centre can be delivered!
In addition to this, Kate has become our honorary chicken keeper, and donkey expert.
CLAIRE COTTRELL: THRIVE PRACTITIONER & COACH
Claire is our Head Thrive Practitioner and is passionate about supporting the social and emotional development of children and young people. Claire has been instrumental in introducing the Thrive approach to the Centre and shares her knowledge with the rest of the team to educate and implement this practise throughout the charity.
Within the team Claire is a BHS mentor and coach with recognised qualifications such as Safe Guarding and Protecting Children and First Aid. Working closely with other therapists Claire supports the physical needs of our clients.
Claire says, “Seeing and being part of what makes a difference to the people that join us here at Conquest is the reason I love my job! I love being able to make a difference with the support of our amazing horses and team, and most importantly I am always having fun.’’
GEMMA ADAMS: HEAD GROOM & COACH
Gemma has loved horses for as long as she can remember, “My earliest memories are of being sat on my mum’s 16 hand high black horse when I was only a few years old. From then on I was hooked, having lessons, joining the pony club and going out competing. I then took a few years out from horses to have my 2 wonderful children one of whom shares my equine passion – we can be found most weekends traveling up and down the country competing. I decided to expand my knowledge further through the BHS training programs and have achieved recognised qualifications such as Safeguarding and Protecting Children, Riding and Road Safety and First Aid. I have completed BHS Stage 1 and 2 and am working towards my Stage 3. I love teaching and passing my knowledge on, so working at Conquest Centre and mentoring our BHS Students is my dream job – although I can’t really call it a job as I enjoy it so much!”
If Gemma is not on the yard teaching the students she will be found schooling the horses – keeping them supple and teaching them new things to keep them happy and healthy!
NICOLE HAWKER: HEAD GROOM & COACH
As a BHS Level 1 graduate Nicole (lovingly known as NikNik to many) is currently studying for her Equine Behaviour qualification, she is passionate about everything horsey and uses her organisation skills to run our yard smoothly.
GERALDINE PING: COACH
Details coming soon …
ABIGAIL VINCENT: COACH
Abigail (Abi) is the newest addition to the team, joining in September 2020 as a Coach. Her knowledge and understanding of the importance of animal husbandry and welfare (gained from her farming background and boosted by her time spent volunteering at the Sathya Sai Donkey sanctuary in Ireland) paired with her experience of working with children as a Youth Support Worker, has made her ideal for the role and she is fully embracing the chance to work with both clients and horses in unison. Abigail said “The opportunity to join the team and enrich the lives of horses and young people is a dream come true. Teaching therapeutic lessons is really fun and I love seeing the clients leave with smiles on their faces. It’s the best feeling!” She is also currently studying with the Natural Animal Centre (NAC) and hopes to gain her Equine Behaviour Stage 1 qualification.
Abigail can often be found on the yard, surrounded by BHS Students … and horses … and chickens … and dogs ….. !
LOTTA VON DER HEYDE: GRANTS & EVALUATION MANAGER
Lotta’s involvement with Conquest started in 2011 as a volunteer offering her experience as a Horse Behaviour Consultant. Having also had a successful career as a company director she was soon talent spotted by the board and invited to join as a Trustee. After a 3 year term Lotta stepped down as she had been voted in to became a Trustee of The British Horse Society and went on to become Trustee with Welfare Specialism and Vice Chairman during 2016– 2019. During this time Lotta continued to support the Conquest team with training and advice in developing ethical, sustainable training and management methods for the horses. When the Grants & Evaluations Manager position became available, Lotta leapt at the opportunity and now works part time, raising much needed funds to support the charity’s valuable work. When not at Conquest, Lotta runs ‘Learning Curve Coaching’ offering equine behaviour advice, talks and seminars, running Horse Agility and EE riding lessons. In her spare time, she can be found having fun with her own 3 horses, 2 dogs and much loved grand children.
Lotta says “I love being part of such a motivated and fun team and I am blown away by the difference our work makes to people’s lives”
HELEN SIMCOCK-ANTHONY: CENTRE ADMINISTRATOR
Helen joined Conquest Centre as a volunteer in 2012 and soon got taken on as a member of staff to organise our equestrian events (eg. Show Jumping, Dressage etc). Her previous work experience of running conferences and weddings, data management and administration, as well as her natural ability to be customer focussed and well organised made her ideal for the role. Following the successful year’s placement, Helen was offered the permanent role of Centre Administrator and has never looked back. Helen’s passion for ‘all things equine’ started when she learnt to ride at the age of 5 yrs and is something which has never left her. “Returning home stinking of horses after a day at the stables” is one of her favourite childhood memories, a good thing, as that’s precisely what happens now after a day at work! Ha! Ha! Her riding experience proved to be a useful skill when she travelled around Australia for a year as it enabled her to work on two Cattle Stations in the remote outback, rounding up thousands of Brahman Cattle (on horseback) with the help of helicopters! Yeeha!
If Helen is not in the office staring at a computer screen, she will be found walking her best pal Monty (a lemon coloured working cocker spaniel).
MORAG WALSH: ADMINISTRATOR & TRAINEE THRIVE PRACTITIONER
Morag first discovered Conquest Centre as a mother with young children and they often visited to see the animals so when the Administrator position became available, Morag jumped at the chance! Her background in administration plus working in the education sector was ideal to help the office run smoothly, including managing the pathway for new volunteers. Morag is currently completing her Thrive Practitioner training; inspired by the natural environment, 1:1 sessions often involve crafts, glitter and glue – a wonderful mess! Her calm and friendly manner are key to her work, meeting the social and emotional needs of children and young people and of course it is useful in the office too!
Morag is often the first to greet you from her desk in main reception.