Small Animal Team 

Our friendly, dedicated team of staff are here to provide the best care for your pet. Our training is regularly updated to ensure that we are in touch with the latest methods and treatments.

Veterinary Surgeons   -   Nurses   -   Support Staff

Veterinary Surgeons

Tessa Porter MA Vet MB Cert SHP MRCVS (Clinical Director)

Tessa PorterTessa qualified from Cambridge in 1985 and later joined Coombefield in 1988.

Tess now splits her time between Coombfield and her equine work at Summerleaze - She enjoys all aspects of her small animal work  but has a particular interest in surgery and feline medicine.

Tessa has her own horses and several cats which take up much of her spare time. When she can, Tessa escapes to Kenya to visit family.



Jaap Jan van Dijk DVM MRCVS (Clinical Director)

Jaap Jan van DijkKnown as 'JJ' - qualified from Utrecht Veterinary University in the Netherlands in 1996. He moved to the UK later that year to work in Dorset and joined Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in 2001, becoming a Partner in 2007.

JJ has always had a particular interest in exotic animals, helping to set up and run a club for vets and vet students whilst studying in the Netherlands to further their, and his own, knowledge.

His main interests are birds, reptiles (especially tortoises) and fish. Although not a specialist in exotics as such, he is happy to see all animals from an axolotl to a zebrafinch!

Outside of work, JJ enjoys family time, relaxing in the garden and cooking. He also enjoys travelling - especially to the Netherlands to stock up on Dutch treats!



Tim Lawrence BVetMed MRCVS (Assistant)

Tim LawrenceTim qualified from London in 1976. After 3 ½ years in Exeter, he has been in Axminster 

and has seen the practice grow from 6 vets to its current hospital status with 12 full time and 3 part time vets. He is proud to be the Senior Partner of such a caring and professional practice.

His special interests are in equine fertility having studied in Newmarket, equine dentistry having studied a two part advanced course, and Tim regularly attends British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) meetings and courses.

He also has a specialist interest in avian work, especially raptors (birds of prey).

With 34 years of experience, he is happy to deal with anything!!



Jenny Ashby BVSc MRCVS (Assistant) 

Jenny AshbyJenny graduated from Bristol in 2008 and has worked at Coombefield Veterinary Hospital ever since. For the first 4 years I worked as a mixed vet, dealing with pets, farm and equine patients. 

After having my daughter I returned to work part time in the small animal department dealing with anything from cats and dogs, to rabbits and guinea pigs. 

Out of work I enjoy spending time on the beach with my family, canoeing and baking.



Rebecca Skellern MA Vet MB MRCVS (Assistant)

Rebecca SkellernBeccy qualified from Cambridge in 2006, and then spent three years in mixed practice in South Wales. After a spell travelling and working in New Zealand she returned to the south west where she had spent her childhood, and started at Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in September 2011. Beccy enjoys the local countryside and coastline, and spends her spare time cycling, riding, snowskiing and diving. 



Brenda Soldan BVetMed MRCVS (Assistant)

Brenda SoldanBrenda qualified from the Royal Veterinary College, London. She has had experience in most areas of veterinary medicine and is currently working in the small animal department.

She has a specialist interest in diagnostic imaging (radiology and ultrasound) and is working towards her RCVS Certificate.

Outside of work, Brenda enjoys spending her time with her family, walking the dog and horse riding.



Nick Weaver  BvSc MRCVS  (Assistant)

Nick WeaverNick is a very able general practitioner vet, having been practicing for many years. We are fortunate to have him on our team on a part time basis and he undertakes all types of work on the farm, in the stables or the hospital - wherever he is needed!



Gaynor Cumming BvetMed MRCVS (Assistant)



James Pattison BVSc MRCVS (Assistant)James Pattison BVSc MRCVS (Assistant)



Chris Ogden BVM BVS MRCVS (Assistant)Chris Ogden BVM BVS MRCVS (Assistant)



Dr Sebastian Wylie BvetMed MRCVS (Assistant)Dr Sebastian Wylie BvetMed MRCVS (Assistant)




Head Nurse

Naomi Ashby-Pickford RVN

I started working in Veterinary Practice in 2001 and qualified as a registered Veterinary nurse in 2005 from Cannington College, Yeovil.

I continued to work in first opinion practice for several years before moving to Bristol to work for one of the largest Referral hospitals in the South West gaining a wealth of knowledge in Critical care, Surgical, Orthopaedic & medical nursing. Alongside referral nursing I spent a year as a lecturer for Cannington College teaching ANA students. I joined Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in August 2012 after a year in a local Equine Referral Hospital. 

I have a keen interest in Wound Management, Orthopaedic and Equine Nursing and am a qualified pet health councillor.

The Nurses


I proudly qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 2007 after training with the PDSA in Essex.  After some locum work in and around the London/Essex area, I relocated to East Devon and started working for Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in 2010.  I am mainly based at the Seaton branch clinic, however I still get my fix of the operating theatre once a week at the Axminster hospital.

I achieved my C-SQP (Animal Health/Medicines Advisor) qualification in 2011.

My main interests include surgical nursing, nurse clinics and puppy/dog behaviour.

Emelie Real RVN Ctlls  

I started working at Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in March 2008 as a student veterinary nurse. In October 2010 I qualified as a registered veterinary nurse after passing my exams. .

I have a certificate in teaching in the life long learning sector so I will now be able to teach veterinary nursing. I am also a clinical coach at the practice to help the students qualify.

My areas of interest within my job is equine and large animal work. I enjoy the medical side of nursing and having involvement in caring for sick inpatients. The main thing I like about my job is the variety – no 2 days are ever the same!

Jane Adkin FdSc SVN

I started training as a Veterinary Nurse at Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in May 2011. Previously I studied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at University in Gloucester. My main interests are in canine behaviour and I hope to gain more experience with equine work.

My main interests are anaesthesia and in-patient care

Chelsey Hayes SVN

I have recently joined Coombefield Veterinary Hospitals team as a student veterinary nurse. I am looking forward to starting my course in September 2012. I have a particular interest in equine work.

Sophie Griffith SVN

I started at Coombefield Veterinary Hospital as a work experience student, I have now joined the nursing team as a student veterinary nurse and am looking forward to starting my course in September 2013. I have a particular interest in caring for inpatients. 

Sandra De Seja-Martin RVN

I started working as a trainee with a veterinary practice in Somerset while attending Bicton College of Agriculture and completed my training in 1999.

I have worked in various locations including the RSPCA and Cyprus Military Working Dog Support Unit.

I joined Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in December 2013, returning to work after a career break to look after my daughter. I enjoy all aspects of veterinary nursing but particularly enjoy surgical and emergency nursing.

Kara Jennings RVN

Donna Mace RVN

Megan Knell RVN

Amy Robinson RVN

Dana Barker SVN

I started Coombefield Veterinary Hospital as a work experience student and now have come to be a part of the veterinary nursing team as a student veterinary nurse; I am looking forward to starting my course in September 2014. I have particular interest in looking after exotics which come in for help.

Simone Fishlock

Chloe Millar

Stephanie Toogood

Lotte Lewis




Support Staff

Practice Manager

Stuart SaundersStuart Saunders

Stuart started working in the City of London as a trader in 1984 before moving to HK in 1993 to establish the business in Asia. Since leaving the city in 2002 he has been the practice manager of a firm of solicitors before moving into the veterinary world. He has also advised on the start-up of a non-invasive cosmetic surgery practice run by 2 practicing GPs in Taunton. In 2016 he was elected to the board of the Veterinary Practice Managers Association (VPMA) an organisation dedicated to improving the management of Veterinary Practices across the country

He is married with 4 children, He has an aging lab/springer crossbreed and a Cat. He is keen on music, travel, golf, fly- fishing, horse racing and all countryside and conservation matters. He is also a Supervising Steward for Glastonbury Festival running a team of 275 volunteers.He has also volunteered for disaster recovery programs in flood areas in the uk and Serbia



Office Staff

Carol Wood - Accounts Payable

Yvette Harris - IT, Accounts Receivable

Office Manager

Katie Millar

Reception Staff

  • Audrey Dicks
  • Angie Tomlin
  • Emma Price
  • Hayley Deblois
  • Lucy Mortimer
  • Deby Henderson
  • Jenny Dillon
  • Kirsty Price ( Head Receptionist)
  • Caron Moss
  • Kate Cross
  • Josie Cable
  • Karen Rattew
  • Vicky Evans ( Seaton)
  • Claire Wise (Seaton)
  • Helen Wilkinson (Seaton)





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