Who We Are

hannahDr Hannah Burgon PhD, MA DipSW, MSc, BSc, Cert in Counselling, Cert in Riding Therapy (CEO and Founder)
Hannah is a qualified Social Worker and has completed training in Riding Therapy and Equine Facilitated Learning. She also holds a Certificate in Counselling, and has a PhD into the benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy & Learning from Cardiff University. Her book ‘Equine-Assisted Therapy and Learning with At-Risk Young People’ was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

Josie Arscott, BA English and American Literature. Advanced Diploma in Humanistic Counselling. Certificate in Affective Neuroscience and Attachment Theory
(Counsellor and Communications and Marketing Officer)
Horses have been a huge part of Josie’s life growing up. She recognised the power of the relationship that can develop between people and these wonderfully perceptive animals. Josie is also a qualified counsellor and values the opportunity that Sirona offers in bringing these two aspects of her life together.

emma 3Emma Matsambanye – Dip. In Counselling, BA (Hons) Steiner/Waldorf Education, MBACP (Counselling and Safeguarding Officer)
Emma has worked with children and young people for over 20 years. She has taught young people in schools and colleges for deprived families in Africa , and as a learning mentor in primary schools in the UK supporting and teaching children with emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties. She has a particular interest in child development research and is enthusiastic about combining it with her love of working with horses.

Sally Croft; Treasurer
Sally Croft is a retired chartered accountant with many years of experience working with small charities, social enterprises and businesses. She worked with Ernst & Young as the changes took place in Eastern Europe. Now semi-retired Sally is working with small charities and social enterprises mainly in the local community. She sits on the boards of both a charity and a small company.

Our team hold a wide range of skills and qualifications and include:

Angie Whitehead
Certificate in Education and Training, Forest School leader,  Certificate in Therapeutic Skills for Outdoor Leaders. (approved Practitioner through the Therapeutic Forest  CIC), Certificate in Counselling & Safeguarding Lead
Education Coordinator & Equine-Assisted Practitioner
Angie has worked with Children and Families for over 20 years and specialised in working with young people with disabilities, behavior and learning needs.  Angie has a life-long association with horses, training young horses for riding and driving.

Ella Woodfield
Ella completed her Level 2 in horse care apprenticeship at Sirona and is now our equine co-ordinator overseeing the care and management of our herd of horses.



Zoe Hayter BHSAI
Zoe works as a Freelance Riding Instructor at Sirona. She has a foundation degree in equine sports performance and coaching and owns her own horses whom she competes mainly in dressage.




Shaun Derioz
Shaun is our fabulous photographer and maintenance man
(and Hannah’s husband!)


We also rely on fabulous volunteers such as Hesti, Jan, Kate F, Shirley, Louise, Nicole, Sue B, Sue P, Kate M, Rhys, Tracey, Jane, David, John, Richard, Amanda and Ginny who bring support in all areas such as poo-picking the fields, admin, running our website (thank you Lea!) and support on sessions. Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering at Sirona to see what vacancies we have available.


Sarah Urwin; Chair
Reg. BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist, Adv. Dip. Couns, Dip. Supervision, FdA (Health Care), EAGALA Cert.  Sarah has a background in local government as well as agricultural management and training. However in the past seventeen years she has worked in Health and Social Care, ultimately as a Counsellor/Psychotherapist, latterly using Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy as an intervention. Sarah is a Supervisor and Trainer of practitioners across the UK and is passionate about this work, a fact which is often commented upon by her students and supervisees!

Rosie Bell
BA Hons in Social Policy & Administration, P.G.C.E., Diploma in Counselling
For the last 23 years of her working life Rosie Bell worked as a counsellor, supervisor, trainer and groupworker in education and health settings and in private practice.She also brings her previous experience in teaching Social Policy , developing workers’ co-ops, community development, and health education action research. She has had a keen interest in relational horsemanship for 35 years without even knowing its name!

Sue Bicks
BSc Human Communication(Psychology and Linguistics), MA Lexicography, Diploma in Counselling
Sue originally studied psychology and linguistics and has recently completed a diploma in counselling. She also worked in IT consultancy. Sirona combines her love of horses and interest in natural therapeutic counselling.


Laurel Ellis
BA Hons Geography, Diploma in Counselling in the Development of Learning, Certificate in Transactional Analysis, MA Social Work, Dip SW, NVQ3 Certificate in Sustainable Horticulture. Laurel worked as a Health/HIV/Aids Advisor with North Devon District Hospital, and as a counsellor and therapist with the Exeter Mental Health team, before taking a Master’s degree in Social Work. Laurel has worked in Devon Children’s Services in assessment and safeguarding, as a supervising social worker in fostering, and a senior social worker with at-risk families in Torbay.
Following a private passion, Laurel re-trained in Horticulture and ran a therapeutic horticulture project in Totnes, while working in garden design and maintenance. Laurel co-founded a successful community enterprise – Food in Community CIC-which collects surplus organic food and redistributes it to vulnerable groups in the community.

Deidre Ford
BA, MSc, CQSW  Deirdre is a registered social worker with a background in multidisciplinary teams supporting people who have learning disabilities and mental health problems. She has taught on social work programmes at the universities of Exeter and Plymouth, and has worked extensively with service user and carer groups in education and practice.


Sarah Matthews
BA (hons) MA, PGCE, PgDipPsych Sarah began teaching English and Drama 23 years ago. She  became increasingly drawn to working with vulnerable young people in various settings including family intervention, as well as teaching in special and hospital schools, focussing on young people with mental health issues, medical needs and autism. As well as supporting therapeutic horsemanship for its enormous potential for humans, she is also passionate about giving healing to horses themselves. She has recently qualified as an Equine Healer.

Sarah Newton
BSC Neuroscience (international), PgDip Law
Sarah has been bought up around horses and has always felt a close connection with them. Sarah’s first degree was Neuroscience and following that worked in a research laboratory and as a nursing assistant in a hospital.
Sarah later re-trained as a lawyer now specialising in property law. It is inspiring being a trustee of Sirona and see the strong connection between humans and animals.


Nicholas  Evans
Author of the bestselling novel ‘The Horse Whisperer’
“When I was researching The Horse Whisperer, I became aware of the astonishing transformative effect horses can have on young people who, for various reasons, are finding life difficult. Since then I have been looking for an organisation that uses human/horse contact to build self-confidence and trust. And now, right on my doorstep, here is Sirona. I’m really thrilled and honoured to be involved.”

Lucy Rees
Lucy is a renowned  horse trainer, equine ethologist and author of the acclaimed book ‘The Horses’ Mind’. We are privileged to have Lucy as a patron of Sirona and hope that she will come over from Spain to give us many more training clinics in the future.

Heather Moffe
Heather is an international specialist teacher of the Classical Seat, and author of the book ‘Enlightened Equitation’. Heather is well known  for her innovative saddle designs and  a great believer that the seat is the foundation of everything in riding. Horse welfare is dear to her heart and she has campaigned for better riding for the last 4 decades.