Our Staff and Pets

At Chestnuts you will always find a friendly face, whether it is one of our receptionists, vets or nurses. To find out more about any of our staff please click on the relevant section below.

Paul Walden

Paul Walden, Vet

Paul qualified from the Royal Veterinary  College in 1989 and has been with our practice since 1993. He became a partner in 1995.

Paul has a wealth of experience in all aspects of veterinary medicine and surgery, being particularly interested in the orthopaedic and soft tissue surgical cases. He is heavily involved in the management of the practice, and is responsible for keeping our website up-to-date with the latest information.

Away from work, Paul enjoys participating in and watching sports, being a keen skier and badminton player. Paul is also kept very busy with his two young sons.


Michelle White

Michelle White, Vet

Michelle qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in June 1995 and has worked at Chestnuts ever since. She became a partner in 2000. She has a particular interest in all aspects of feline medicine and surgery, along with the special care required for critical and intensive-care patients. She frequently attends national conferences to keep up-to-date with the most current and state-of-the art techniques, ideas and equipment available to us. She also has initiated and leads the laparoscopic surgery service that we offer at the surgery, including the provision of key-hole ovariectomy surgeries. Michelle is also keen to promote an understanding of the relationship between behaviour and disease, and how this can improve the quality of life of our patients and their owners!

Michelle is heavily involved in the organisation of the practice, ensuring we strive to maintain and exceed current RCVS practice standard schemes. As a trained nursing assessor, she also has responsibility for the training of student veterinary nurses.

At home, Michelle is learning Portuguese and enjoys travelling to put her language skills to good use!


Fiona Smith

Fiona Smith, Vet

Fiona joined Chestnuts in 2005, and became a director in 2013. She graduated as a scholar from St Catharine's College, Cambridge University, being awarded a double first for her degree, along with various university prizes including those for academic studies, pathology and small animal medicine, as well as the Nelson prize for contribution to collegiate life. She is interested in all aspects of soft tissue surgery, medicine and imaging but has a particular interest in cardiology, performing many of the cardiac assessments including ECGs and doppler echocardiograms for the practice.

She was awarded her post-graduate RCVS Certificate in Small Animal Medicine (CertSAM) in 2010, and the RCVS Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in 2017, which, by examination, was specifically designated to Veterinary Cardiology (CertAVP(VC)) in 2018.  Fiona is currently on the RCVS list of Advanced Practitioners in both Small Animal Medicine and Veterinary Cardiology, and is on the RCVS assessor panel for admitting other experienced vets to this status in the field of cardiology. She is interested in complicated medical cases, and performs many of the endoscopic investigations at the practice (both bronchoscopy and oesophago-gastroduodenoscopy procedures). She is currently studying for two further certificates - in diagnostic imaging, and veterinary business management, and hopes to complete these in 2020. 

Fiona is a member of the BSAVA, the BVA, the Small Animal Medicine Society, and the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society, and regularly attends local and national conferences. She is actively involved with the East Anglian regional BSAVA committee, helping to organise talks by renowned speakers in the veterinary field for local colleagues and having served as secretary of the committee. She is a mentor for local veterinary surgeons who are continuing with further study for their PGCert in Medicine or Surgery and sits on the BSAVA student support and administration committee as a mentor representative.

She is keen to promote animal care in the local community, regularly organising and running workshops in local schools, and speaking at local careers conventions to help guide budding students in veterinary and veterinary nursing careers. She also organises and supervises the placements we offer for veterinary students at our practice as well as playing in a role in ensuring the practice stays at the forefront of clinical standards as assessed by the RCVS practice standards scheme.

Fiona is also the veterinary advisor to the Rumba Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting projects which make a direct impact on the health of cats and dogs.

In her spare time, Fiona is a keen pianist, plays alto saxophone in a local jazz band, and loves trying to get the perfect photographic shot of pets and wildlife. She also enjoys horse-riding and is kept busy by her very active Springer Spaniel called Daisy.


Cathy Curtis

Cathy Curtis

Dermatology Specialist (Referrals)

Cathy qualified from the RVC, London in 1989. After a few years working in general practice, she worked and travelled abroad for 10 months before returning to the RVC to undertake a dermatology residency. She gained the RCVS Diploma in Veterinary Dermatology and was appointed a RCVS-recognised specialist in dermatology in 1997. She now holds specialist dermatology clinics at the Hoe Lane practice twice a week. Cathy's outside interests include foreign languages and cooking, although her two young children take up most of her spare time!


Julia Newman

Julia Newman

Julia qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 1994, and initially started her career with us here at Chestnuts. Following this, Julia expanded her breadth of experience at a number of different practices but in 2003 she returned to us in Hertfordshire. Following the birth of her two children, Julia has continued to work with us on a part-time basis. She enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine, but has a particular interest in surgery. She has also completed training in acupuncture and runs regular acupuncture clinics at our Hoe Lane branch on Thursdays and Fridays.

At home, Julia has young springer x labrador puppy called Maddie, and two young kittens called Big Bad Billy, and Ruby.


Melissa Heaney

Melissa graduated from University College Dublin in 2011, and since qualifying she has concentrated on small animal practice and has gained a wealth of experience in first opinion practice.  She joined Chestnuts in 2016.  Melissa has a special interest in soft tissue surgery, having completed a certificate in small animal surgery in 2014, but she also enjoys the work up and treatment of medicine cases. She is also developing our orthopaedics service, and can now offer the modified maquet procedure (MMP) for surgical management of cranial cruciate ligament ruptures - a common knee injury in dogs. In her spare time she enjoys walking in the countryside, music and travelling. She lives locally with her two rescue tabby cats, Katniss and Rue, and hopes to adopt a dog in the not so distant future.


Jackie BaillieJackie Baillie, Vet

Jackie graduated from Glasgow University and joint us at Chestnuts in 2005 following a year in mixed practice in Essex. Jackie has experience in all aspects of veterinary medicine and is a versatile surgeon enjoying both soft tissue and orthopaedic surgical procedures. Since working at Chestnuts, Jackie has adopted a scruffy stray cat, Molly.

Jackie has worked part-time for us at Chestnuts since returning to work following the birth of her third child.


Kate Holroyd

Kate grew up in Surrey and graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in July 2012. She spent 12 months working locally before being awarded a one year internship at the Royal Veterinary College referral hospital specialising in small animals. During this time she also published and presented research in feline urethral obstructions. Kate then moved back into general practice in Hertfordshire and saw a very busy and varied caseload.
For the past two years Kate has been travelling the world interspersed with working as a locum night vet treating acute medical and surgical emergencies before finally settling down with us.

Kate has a particular interest in soft tissue surgery and emergency medicine and plays an integral part in the laparoscopic service we offer, helping to expand the range of 'keyhole' surgery options that we now offer.  

In her spare time, Kate likes to travel, ski and scuba dive and uses her diploma in photography to document her adventures.


Matthew Steele

Matt qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in July 2017. He has a particular interest in internal medicine, especially in cats, having completed a research project in feline diabetes at university. He also enjoys emergency medicine and diagnostics and hopes to continue to widen his experience in these areas. Outside of work he is an avid squash player, competing in weekend tournaments and playing for Broxbourne’s first team when he can!


Talia Teren

Since qualifying from Cambridge Veterinary School in 2002, Talia has gained a wealth of experience in small animal general practices across the South East England, developing her particular interests in medicine, imaging, dentistry and ophthalmology. In 2010, Talia was awarded a General Practitioner's Certificate in Small Animal Medicine from the European School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies.

Keen to engage in charity work, Talia has volunteered for the SPCA in Fiji, operating at the local facilities and travelling to remote locations to offer services, support and education. Currently, Talia is an education volunteer for the RSPB, National Trust, and Natural History Museum, encouraging young people in the community to engage with an enjoy our wonderful natural world.

She is kept on her toes by her young son, but somehow still finds the time to enjoy playing tennis, horse riding, surfing, skiing, and most importantly, relaxing with her beautiful cat, Jonah. 

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Hannah Forrest

Hannah Forrest

Human Resources and Training Manager

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Hannah joined us at Chestnuts in 1995 and commenced her formal nurse training in 1999. Shortly after qualifying in 2002, she was promoted to the position of Head Nurse. Hannah plays a pivotal role in the management of our nursing team and having qualified as a student nurse assessor in 2003, is actively involved in the training of nurses within the practice. Hannah has a wealth of experience in all aspects of medical and surgical veterinary nursing. She also plays a big role in promoting animal welfare in the local community, helping to organise and run workshops for local children.

Hannah has a love of travel and adventure, having climbed mountains such as Kilimanjaro, and completed expeditions including the Inca Trail. She is also a keen skier in her spare time. in 2012, Hannah gave birth to her first child, a lovely baby girl called Lydia. She has now returned to work part-time after her second daughter, Thea, was born, and is heavily involved in nurse training and human resources within our practice.  


Carolyn BurtonCarolyn Burton

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Fulltime Senior Nurse

Carolyn joined us at Chestnuts whilst completing her formal placements in practice, during her foundation degree in Veterinary Nursing. Following qualifying and registering in 2009, she commenced a full-time position with us at our Hoe Lane branch. Carolyn has an enviable knowledge on the specific care of exotic patients, having owned a variety of such pets herself, from reptiles through to rats, degus, guinea pigs, rabbits and gerbils to name a few! She has also attended courses dealing specifically with the veterinary care of these species to expand her experience in this field and has recently been awarded her City and Guilds Certificate in Veterinary Nursing of Exotic species.

Carolyn also has a special interest in anaesthesia and the essential role our nurses play in the constant monitoring of surgical patients, and also is developing her knowledge base of the particular requirements of our cardiology patients. Carolyn is head of department in surgical nursing and is a nurse training assessor.

At home, Carolyn also owns two very bouncy Labradors called Riley and Amber.


Phoebe Tyler

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Phoebe joined Chestnuts in 2017, having spent time previously working in a busy small animal hospital. She has a particular interest in our feline patients, and is currently working hard in our application to be a FAB CAT feline friendly practice, ensuring we keep up to date with the very latest recommendations to make sure that cats visiting and staying in our surgery have as stress free and comfortable a stay as possible. 


Megan Kennedy

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Megan joined the team as one of our student nurses in September 2015 and has passed all of her qualifying exams to be a veterinary nurse, now being fully qualified! So far she is enjoying all aspects of nursing, with a keen interest in medical nursing.

Megan enjoys going for long walks with her 8 year old poodle x shih tzu, Poppy.  She also has a keen interest in performing arts and hopes to contine this as a hobby in her spare time.


Rachel Barbrook

Rachel B

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Rachel joined Chestnuts in 2015, and has just finished her training to be a veterinary nurse. Rachel has had a varied career to date, initially focusing on her love of horses, having completed a degree in Equine Science from Aberystwyth University, and worked with dressage horses in the UK, in New Zealand and in Maryland. Previously, Rachel was employed at a referral veterinary practice working as an animal care assistant during the nights. After deciding to concentrate on small animal work she enrolled with the College of Animal Welfare to train to become a veterinary nurse, and has now passed her final exams.

Rachel is a keen dressage rider, spending much of her spare time with her horse, Kracker. She also has four special dogs at home, a Springer called Dixie, a cheeky Dachshund called Toby, a Sprocker called Ivy and a new puppy Labrador, Eadie. Frederick, the cat, is in charge!

Stefanie Yianni

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Stefanie joined Chestnuts in 2018 and has recently qualified as a veterinary nurse. She is enjoying her time here with the interesting and varied cases that we help and has varying special interests ranging from anaesthesia and surgical nursing to feline behaviour. Stefanie has a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Storm, and 2 cats, Lola and Tallulah.



Claire Burt

claire 1

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Senior Nurse (part-time)

Claire joined the practice in 1990, originally being based at our Fore Street Surgery in Hertford. She completed her formal qualifications in 2000 . Claire has a wealth of knowledge in the veterinary field, and is experienced in all aspects of medical and surgical veterinary nursing. She has also completed further training in the specialist advice required to guide our clients on animal nutrition and plays a pivotal role being in charge of our pharmacy and on-site laboratory.

Claire has a spaniel called Carrot. She now works part-time, being kept busy with her two young children, Harrison and Matilda.

Helen King

Helen King

Qualified Veterinary Nurse

Senior Nurse (part-time)

Helen joined us in 1996 and following a short break to raise a family, we have welcomed her back on a part-time basis. Helen is experienced in all aspects of medical and surgical veterinary nursing, and is head of department in medical nursing. She has recently completed an in-depth anaesthesia course with the Royal Veterinary College, which is one of her particular interests.

At home, Helen has a gorgeous black Labrador called Wilma, who you may see sometimes with her at work. 


Jane Weiss 

Qualified Veterinary Nurse (part-time)

Jane is a qualified Veterinary Nurse. She started working at our Fore Street branch in 1984 as a young girl fulfilling her dream of working with animals. Over the years she has built up a wealth of experience and is a familiar and friendly face for many of our longstanding clients. She also has a keen interest in weight clinics and is always willing to offer advice and tips on how to help our pets maintain a slim waist-line. She now works part-time as she has a young family. 

Mrs Beckham, Red and Tango are her three lovely fluffy cats, and in her spare time, Jane is a keen netball player.

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Julie Sewell

Julie Sewell

Customer Care Team Leader

Julie joined our team in 2015 in a new position created with the aim of uniting our whole customer care team, so making our clients' experience as pleasant and smooth as possible. Julie has a wealth of customer care and team leading experience having worked in this field within the world of banking and for the emergency services. Julie is now enjoying combining these skills with her love of animals and really enjoys the daily contact she has with our clients and their well loved pets. At home, Julie has a Border Collie dog called Charlie, a very bright dog who thrives on mental stimulation and meeting new people, and loves long walks in the local countryside.


Jacqui Butler

Jacqui Butler

Senior Receptionist

Jacqui started work at our practice 27 years ago and consequently has seen a huge variety of patients and their conditions over the years. She left work to raise two children, but returned to our Hoe Lane branch in 1994 as our Head Receptionist.

At home, Jacqui has a bearded collie called Joshua and a cheeky Shih Tzu called Bobbie. She has a particular soft spot for British Short-haired cats and recently Otto has joined her family  - a very naughty silver tabby kitten!


Jacqui Davey

Jacqui Davey

Accounts/Administrations Officer

Jacqui joined our practice in 2003 and is in charge of our accounts department. She also plays a pivotal role liasing between our different departments. 


Georgie Seaman


Georgie joined our practice as a receptionist in 2000. She has a caring approach to all our patients, but has a special bond with greyhounds – actively supporting the Greyhound Trust in her spare time, by walking and helping with fundraising.


Leigh Lawrence

Leigh Lawrence


Leigh has been working at Chestnuts since 2002 and has a menagerie of pets at home including a rabbit and guinea pigs. Leigh has a vast amount of experience in the husbandry and care of such pets and is always willing to advise and offer tips to our clients on the special care of these smaller patients! She spends much of her time out of work offering a home boarding service for rabbits and guinea pigs when their families are away on holiday.


Mo Lloyd

Mo Lloyd


Mo has been with our practice since 1999 and is heavily involved in processing and resolving problems relating to completion of insurance claims applications on  behalf of our clients. She also plays an important role in credit control, and has been pivotal in helping us to set up our new Chestnuts Health Club, providing a cost-effective way to spread the payments for preventative health care. Mo has a cheeky little Yorkshire Terrier called Archie, who you may see in reception from time to time.


Julie BabbageJulie Babbage


Julie joined us at our Hoe Lane branch in 2008. Not new to the field of medicine, Julie had previously had a very successful career as a ‘human’ nurse, before leaving work to have a family. She now enjoys combining working in a medical environment with day-to-day contact with animals as well!

Julie has a lovely cat at home called Wilf, and has a particular love of the ginger cats that come into the clinic!


Debbie Tydeman


Debbie joined our reception team at Chestnuts in 2016, having had extensive administrative and secretarial experience before, including having previously worked as a veterinary receptionist. At home Debbie's children have 'flown the nest', but she has two large dogs who keep her busy, a standard poodle named Harley and a Doberman named Della.



Scooter Scooter

Scooter was our adopted practice cat. She had an accident as a kitten when she fell out of a flat window and broke her back. Her injuries required ongoing medical care, and so she lived with us for many years at Hoe lane where we could provide the care she needed to enjoy her life until she sadly passed away in 2018. She will be remembered with love and affection by us all, and fondly remains our practice 'mascot'.


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Mel and her dog Harvey
Mel and Harvey
Fiona and her dog Daisy
Fiona and Daisy
Claire and her dog Kojak
Claire and Kojak
Scooter, Hoe Lane Surgery's pet

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