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


Tim Lawrence BVetMed MRCVS (Senior Partner)

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!!

Tessa Porter MA Vet MB Cert SHP MRCVS (Partner)

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

She enjoys all aspects of her equine work and, on the small animal side, has a particular interest in surgery and feline medicine.

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





Robert Sinclair BVetMed Cert CHP MRCVS (Partner)

Robert SinclairRobert qualified from the Royal Veterinary College, London in 1980. He has a specialised knowledge in small animal dermatology and sees second opinion cases.

Outside of work, Robert snow skiis and plays for the West Dorset Hockey Club.





Jaap Jan van Dijk DVM MRCVS (Partner)

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!

Stuart Altoft B.Vet.Med,GPcert EP,CertAVP(ED),BAEDT MRCVS (Partner) 

Stuart AltoftStuart Graduated from the Royal Veterinary College (London) in 2002 and spent the first 4 

years of his career working in small animal and equine practice in Nottingham.

Following a few months travel in Central America, Stuart migrated to the south west and has spent the last 8 years at a local equine practice.  After many months of hard work Stuart was awarded the RCVS Certificate of advanced veterinary practice(Equine Dentistry) in 2015.  

With 2 young children at home Stuart has little time for external activities, but he is looking forward to disappearing down to Lyme in search of fossils on afternoons off!

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!






Philippa Burg BSc MA VetMB MRCVS (Assistant)

Philippa BurgI initially graduated with a degree in animal science from Imperial College London before qualifying from Cambridge Vet School in 2011. After graduating I worked at an animal clinic on the island of Langkawi in Malaysia.

Following this I started an internship at Western Counties Equine Hospital where I developed a particular interest in anaesthesia and medicine. From there I went on to locum in Lincolnshire before joining Coombefield Veterinary Hospital in May 2013.

Outside of work I enjoy horse-riding and exploring the countryside and beaches.


Katherine Tratt BVM&S MRCVS

Katherine graduated from Edinburgh in 2007
Katherine started her career at another local vet in devon  before moving to Flintshire for a few years working at a small animal and equine practice before moving closer to home in 2011 to work at a small animal practice in Somerset before finally settling in Devon with her husband, horses and dogs.
With what little spare time she has Katherine spends with her horses



Michaela  Taylor VetMB BA,BSc MRCVS

Michaela graduated from Cambridge in 2013.

After leaving vet school she worked for a year in Thailand for a small animal shelter caring for a wide variety of animals from cats and dogs to monkeys.

Michaela moved to Devon in 2015 and has been working for Coombefield since. She is interested in all aspects of small animal medicine and has a particular interest in oncology, surgery and small mammal medicine and has undertaken additional training in rabbit medicine and surgery.

At home she has a very handsome three-legged cat called Hector who was a local stray in need of surgery and a home following a nasty car accident.


Olga Kucinska MRCVS (Assistant)

Olga graduated from the University of Olsztyn in Poland in May 2015.

Olga’s first post was in a Small Animal Practice in the South East, but seeking a more rural lifestyle, she came to Devon and joined the Coombefield Team in March 2016.

Olga enjoys all aspects of Small Animal Veterinary Care but is developing her particular interest in Diagnostic Imaging.

In her spare time Olga enjoys dressage with her horse “Dallas” and walking the Devon countryside with her Belgian Shepherd puppy “Felix”.


Sanne Jonker MRCVS (Assistant)

Sanne graduated from Utrecht in the Netherlands in May 2015.

Her first post was working in a Small Animal Practice on the Isle of Man before joining Coombefield in November 2016.

Sanne enjoys all aspects of Small Animal Veterinary Care but has a particular interest in exotics…we are used to seeing a variety of unusual pets in Sanne’s consulting room!

In her spare time Sanne enjoys, sports, walking, baking and cycling…though is finding the Devon countryside slightly more hilly than at home in the Netherlands!




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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

Nathalie Ford RVN

I have worked at Coombefield Veterinary Hospital since I started my work experience. I then went on to work Saturdays and then became a trainee veterinary nurse. I have since qualified,married and started a family. 

Stuart McQueen A1 RVN MBVNA 

I qualified as a veterinary nurse in 2007 after training with the PSDA in East Glasgow, shortly after I moved to Coombefield Veterinary Hospital. I have a keen interest in veterinary nursing clinics and emergency and critical care. I run and organise promotions in the hospital including vaccination amnesty and microchip month throughout the year.


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 Staines 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.

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.

Shannon Blair RVN

I graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Veterinary Nursing and Practice administration in 2011. I worked in a small animal hospital in Gloucestershire for 18 months before spending the first half of 2013 traveling the world. Since returning back to the UK I locumed all around the South West until starting at Coombefield in March 2014. I enjoy horse riding and Thai boxing in my spare time, I have a whole array of animals at home including 4 horses, 3 dogs, 2 cats and 2 chickens.

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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, most recently Rosemullion Vets in Cornwall. He has also advised on the start-up of a non-invasive cosmetic surgery practice run by 2 practicing GPs in Taunton. 

He is married with 4 children, He has an aging lab/spriger 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 The Park area at Glastonbury Festival running a team of 275 volunteer stewards.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
  • Yvette Harris
  • Jenny Dillon
  • Kirsty Price
  • Simone Fishlock
  • Joey Sweet
  • Vicky Evans ( Seaton)
  • Chris Potter (Seaton)
  • Claire Wise (Seaton)

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