Fernlea Veterinary Clinics

Meet the Team

Meet our friendly and experienced staff members

Robin Leadbetter Veterinary surgeon and partner

Robin Leadbetter

Veterinary surgeon | Partner

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Robin graduated from Cambridge university in 1983 & worked in mixed practice in Leicestershire before returning to his home in Bristol opening Fernlea in 1986. In his spare time he is a keen runner & enjoys long walks with Jane & their rescue dog Luigi.

Jane Leadbetter

Jane Leadbetter

Practice administrator | Partner

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Jane worked as head nurse in Leicestershire with Robin before moving to Bristol & helped establish Fernlea. Jane still enjoys meeting clients & their pets & working alongside the Fernlea team. Outside the practice she enjoys swimming & spending time with Luigi, a dog she rescued with Robin while on holiday in Sicily.

Kate Dawes Veterinary surgeon

Kate Dawes

Veterinary surgeon

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Kate graduated from Liverpool University in 1998 and joined Fernlea in 2003. She particularly enjoys medical cases and after several years of further study obtained the RCVS Advanced Certificate in Veterinary Practice (Small Animal Medicine) in 2019. Outside work she is a keen musician, and is kept busy with her young family and dog Jessie.

Jen Achilles Veterinary surgeon

Jen Achilles

Veterinary surgeon

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Jen graduated from the University of Bristol in 2009 and has been with Fernlea since 2011.  She is currently studying for a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice and enjoys soft tissue surgery and the otherwise varied mix of first opinion veterinary work. She has recently become a mum to a little boy and is loving this new challenge.  In her spare time otherwise she enjoys yoga, ice skating and baking.

Becca Sheppard Veterinary surgeon

Alice Judge

Veterinary surgeon

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Alice graduated from Edinburgh University in 2018 after completing a MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare alongside her veterinary degree. She grew up in Somerset so was pleased to join Fernlea in 2021 to focus on small animal work, after working in mixed practice for several years. She enjoys the variation of first opinion work and is passionate about sustainability. Outside of work she enjoys running, climbing and wild camping when the weather allows! She has a naughty cat called Squid to keep her entertained in the evenings. 

Stephanie Bolshaw Veterinary surgeon

Stephanie Bolshaw

Veterinary surgeon

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Steph joined the Fernlea team in 2017, originally as a locum, and has stayed ever since. After graduating from the Royal Veterinary College in 2013, Steph worked in London before migrating back to her native West Country. She enjoys all aspects of general practice, but has a special interest in feline medicine and emergency and critical care. She is working towards her Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice. Steph has a cat called Dennis who enjoys shouting for his dinner and making himself at home with the neighbours!

Gemma Crossan

Bev Widdowson

Veterinary surgeon

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Bev graduated from Bristol University in 2016. She joined Fernlea in 2021 after spending a few years working in Manchester. She has a keen interest in surgical cases. Outside of work she is a keen gym goer and baker and loves walking her Whippet Larry.

Hannah Vaux

Veterinary surgeon

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Hannah graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2012, and joined the Fernlea team in 2014. She has an interest in exotics and enjoys medicine. She lives in St George with her husband, their two young children, and two beautiful but slightly bonkers cats.  

Kelly Smart Veterinary nurse

Richard Evans

Veterinary surgeon

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Richard graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1995. Following six years working in Mixed Practice in Cornwall, he moved to Bristol and started att Fernlea Vets in 2002. He studied for and gained the RCVS Certificate in Small Animal Medicine in 2010. Outside of work he enjoys cycling and playing the guitar

Kelly Smart Veterinary nurse

Kelly Smart

Head Nurse

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Kelly joined Fernlea as a student nurse in 2009 and graduated from university in 2012 as a qualified veterinary nurse. She is passionate about caring for animals, and has a particular interest in anaesthesia and surgical nursing. She worked mainly with our orthopaedic team between 2012-2016 developing her interests in surgical nursing. In 2016 she became Head Nurse, a role she thoroughly enjoys.  Outside of work she has 2 cats called Maisie and Mia both rescued through a charity.  In her spare time she enjoys baking, running, reading and knitting.

Hannah Joy Veterinary nurse

Hannah Joy

Veterinary nurse

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To follow…

Rachel Matthews Veterinary nurse

Rachel Matthews

Veterinary nurse

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Rachel started working for Fernlea as a student nurse in 2011 and joined the team when she graduated in 2014 from Hartpury College. She particularly enjoys theatre nursing and anaesthesia. She has a cat called Mia who she adopted from Bristol and Wales cat rescue.

Abbey Clark

Veterinary nurse

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Abbey joined Fernlea in 2018 as a student veterinary nurse, and
graduated from Bristol University in 2020. She has always wanted to work
in the veterinary field since she was young, and has a particular
interest in surgical nursing and inpatient care. Outside of work she
fosters cats for Bristol and Wales Cat Rescue, and in her spare time
enjoys reading and cooking, and catching up with friends.

Amy Ashley

Amy Ashley

Veterinary nurse

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Amy started work at the Hanham clinic with Mr Hoare in 1997, joining Fernlea in 2000 and qualifying as a veterinary nurse in 2005.  She enjoys all things feline and has two cats of her own.  She is also one of our regular Saturday nurses.

Jane Tarling Veterinary nurse

Jane Tarling

Veterinary nurse

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Jane started work at the Hanham clinic with Mr Hoare in 1982, qualifying as a veterinary nurse in 1984 and joining Fernlea in 1999. As well as being an experienced veterinary nurse she is also the practice insurance administrator.  She has a Staffie called Rosie.

Claire Perkins Veterinary nurse

Claire Perkins

Veterinary nurse

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Claire qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1998, and joined Fernlea in 1999.  Claire enjoys chatting to clients on reception and also represents the practice by doing school talks in the local area. She has a cocker spaniel called Zebbi, a cat called Chloe, 2 rabbits and 2 hamsters.  Claire also offers a cat sitting service.

Claire Coombes nurse

Claire Coombes

Veterinary nurse

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Claire started with Fernlea on a placement as a student veterinary nurse from Bristol University in 2005 and joined the team full time when she qualified in 2008.  She now works part-time and particularly enjoys working with the orthopaedic team.  She has several pets, including a very naughty border terrier, two cats, two turtles, a bearded dragon and a few tropical fish!

Emma Jenkins Nurse

Millie Nemeth

Veterinary nurse

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Millie began working as a student veterinary nurse at Fernlea in 2019 and is excited to be graduating from Hartpury University this year. She particularly enjoy surgical nursing and caring for inpatients at the practice. She has border collie named Kirby and several rescue guinea pigs.

Maddie Place Nurse

Maddie Place

Veterinary nurse

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Maddie is currently in her final year of the Veterinary Nursing degree course at Hartpury university.  She started at Fernlea in 2016 for her university training placement and has stayed ever since!  She is due to graduate in June 2020 and will then be joining the team full time.  She particularly enjoys theatre nursing, and is also one of our regular Saturday nurses.  She has a cat called Nala.

Jade Ward Nurse

Jasmin Mondata

Trainee Veterinary nurse

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Jasmin’s background lies in design, but she has always loved caring for animals. She ran her own pet-care services alongside her illustration work, before joining Fernlea full-time as an animal care assistant in October 2020. She is currently studying vet nursing at Bath College and will be graduating as a Registered Veterinary Nurse in 2023. Jasmin enjoys horse riding, body boarding and playing rounds of games at the ever popular Chance and Counters café.

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson

Trainee Veterinary Nurse

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Emma joined Fernlea in 2018, and works mainly on reception.  She thoroughly enjoys her role, having always had a keen interest in animals. She enjoys riding her horses and walking her dog, and also has 3 cats and 2 rabbits.

Sue Mitchell

Sue Mitchell

Practice Manager

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Sue has been with Fernlea pretty much since the beginning, starting work as a veterinary nurse in 1986.  On returning from maternity leave in 2008 she took on the role of practice manager.

Matthew Linnell

Matthew Linnell

Orthopaedic Veterinary Surgeon

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Matt graduated from Bristol Veterinary School in 1996. He returned to the city in 2002 and has worked at Fernlea ever since. He attained the RCVS Certificate in Small Animal Surgery in 2008 and was in the first cohort to be awarded RCVS Advanced Practitioner status in 2015. He was mentored by the internationally renowned surgeon Dr Hamish Denny FRCVS and worked alongside him for 17 years until his recent retirement. Matt provides a full-time Orthopaedic Referral Service to other veterinary surgeons across the South West. This means that if your pet were to need an orthopaedic surgery they can receive expert care from the referral team here at Fernlea without needing to be transferred elsewhere. Matt lives in Bristol with his wife and two young sons. He loves going to live music, dabbles in triathlons, and is looking forward to travelling again now that the kids are getting bigger.”

Claire Goodwin nurse

Kate Whybrow

Veterinary surgeon – Orthopaedic Intern

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Kate graduated from Liverpool University in 2019. She started working in a PDSA hospital in Cardiff where she developed a keen interest in surgery.  Kate moved to Bristol and started working at Fernlea Orthopaedics in May 2022 as an intern.  She is working towards her Post Graduate Certificate in Small Animal Surgery.

Get in touch

Feel free to get in touch so that we can help and advise you on your new kitten, whatever the problem!