After a lengthy gap due to much distraction (some of it the 4-legged variety but no excuse since then!) here is my long overdue next post. I am not someone who feels comfortable in the spotlight but have succumbed to much gentle persuasion to post my history, both in the field of natural health and in my life choices. The argument being that a basic “show and tell” can enable people to see a depth of experience and commitment, which – hopefully – gives a context and encourages confidence in New Leaf products.
What follows is my CV. Curriculum vitae literally means “the course of life”, but if you are not interested in the ins and outs of it all and just want to check out my credentials there is a summary in list form at the end.
My career began unintentionally in 1974 when I was blindly wondering where I was going in life and I got a job in a shop, to “buy some time”.
It wasn’t any old shop though, it was Holland & Barrett. In those days customers were truly into natural health (no tins of muscle-building fluorescent whey powder on the shelves then). It was an era when wholemeal bread was only available in health food shops, and if you ate brown rice you were considered eccentric and expected to wear sandals 24/7.
Holland and Barrett turned out to be absolutely the best and most right place for me. I’d entered a world that I knew nothing about, and it fascinated me. My lunch breaks were spent reading the books from the bookstand. I hoovered up the information obsessively - and I haven’t looked back. Nutrition, diet, shiatsu, herbal wisdom, aromatherapy, iridology, colour healing, acupuncture, naturopathy... you name it, I read it.
In the late ‘70s I trained in massage, reflexology and Metamorphic Technique. I did a couple of counselling trainings including bereavement counselling, and volunteered at the Women’s Advice and Counselling service in Deptford.
In 1980, due to my own health problems, I discovered the healing effects of homeopathy. I was so impressed by what it had done for me that I decided I wanted to study and become a homeopath. My situation didn’t allow that so by 1983 I had to accept that for the time being an evening class in homeopathy was as close as I was going to get. Finally, in 1988, I was able to start the 4yr professional course at the College of Homeopathy at Regent’s College in London. I graduated in 1992 and have been in practice ever since, holding my doors wide open or semi-closed, according to circumstances.
In 1989, whilst at college, I started work at Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy where, amongst many other things, I learned the techniques of making herbal creams, ointments, tinctures and oil infusions.
Towards the end of my college training I took over teaching a homeopathy evening class, which I ran for a further three years.
I was fortunate to be involved in the setting up of a complementary therapy department at Lewisham Hospital in S.E. London, and lucky to be one of the two homeopaths who practised there for the whole of the three years that it was in existence. As with much of the NHS there were massive funding problems and, sadly, the unit suffered from a “Last In First Out” policy and had to close.
For six years I took part in a European survey collecting cases of vaccine damage, having been roped in when a volunteer was needed. In 2005 we (the EFVV ) presented our findings to the European Parliament. As a result of this work I learned a lot about the vaccination issue and have since treated many children and adults with vaccine-related concerns.
In 1999 I trained in Brain Gym and in 2000 I started the Kaleidoscope Programme - a holistic approach to helping children with learning difficulties. I went on to take the “Brain Integration 1” training with Dr. Charles Krebs (a pioneer in brain research) and following on from that I was invited to a number of schools to run teacher training sessions.
In 2000 I invested in a QXCI biofeedback screening device which scans the body in intricate detail. It was, for many years, a valuable asset to my practice. I still use it from time to time but it is now very antiquated and, at this time in my life, I don’t consider it a priority to fork out thousands to replace it with an upgrade. Around this time I took one or two minor courses of study, to consolidate learning that I had accumulated over time. This included a course in nutrition.
From 1992 - 2001 I practised homeopathy in various clinics, moving from London to Hastings in 1995. From 2001 I worked from home, moving out of the lounge (to the relief of my children!) into my new garden office, installed in 2005.
In August 2007 I extended the mortgage on my house in order to purchase a 5.5 acre plot of land. This was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, totally organic, and in the summer was covered in orchids and other wild flowers. The field had plenty of space for sowing dense patches of native UK wildflowers and some medicinal herbs and (drum roll!) 2008 saw the launch of New Leaf…
This is what 800 saplings looks like! :
...donated at the very end of 2008 by the Woodland Trust and planted in the nick of time, with the help of friends and volunteers.
This increased the local woodland by about 2 acres. Over time, a further 200 trees were planted, bringing the total up to 1,000.
In 2008 I became a part time relief worker for Autism Sussex (now “Aspens”), a charity that provides housing and support for adults with autism.
For many years - in my ‘free time’ (!) - I ran an acapella singing group, writing all the vocal arrangements and putting on performances to raise money for charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support and the local hospice.
Sadly we ‘retired’ in 2011 as there are only 24 hours in the day and unfortunately I was beginning to need at least 30! However, in the lead up to the following Christmas I was asked to run a small choir for Autism Sussex to do some Christmas carols, so music was still a part of my life at that time.
In 2012 new legislation was introduced that resulted in major restrictions on the availability of herbal products and the legal right of practitioners to prescribe them. Homeopaths often prescribe herbal tinctures for therapeutic use, but only qualified herbalists would be allowed free rein to dispense common herbs such as St John’s wort. There was much concern amongst natural health practitioners about this new legislation approaching on the horizon. We had plenty of warning, but the effects were to be far-reaching and we had no power to influence them.
Throughout this period, my favourite place to spend time was my field, with the new woodland, the wildflowers and my medicinal herbs. I used to camp out there with my dogs when I could, but inevitably always had to return to my home, a small house in a Victorian terrace, with neighbours who weren’t always friendly; and finding somewhere to park was as competitive as musical chairs – never enough spaces and simply tough if it was your turn to be “out”. Much as I appreciated my position and all my blessings, I found it harder and harder to go from the idyll of the field, and to return home to my little Victorian box. Planning laws would have prevented me from moving onto the field, quite rightly, so I started trying to work out an alternative way of life where I could combine my daily living with being in nature, not necessarily on a scale of five and a half acres but where I could step out into nature rather than onto concrete. After much deliberation, in 2013, I moved to France, where it was possible to buy a house on a plot of land at a similarly low price as the monetary value of my field. Not a bad exchange! And it came with some woodland!
There followed seven years of operating New Leaf in France, selling products in the markets and learning French terms and names. New Leaf continued to evolve with new products, one of which is New Leaf Arnica Balm, affectionately known as Choc Chip. Wherever possible New Leaf products have names that imply that they are good enough to eat. Choc Chip is so called because the French word for a bump or a bang is “choc”, as in “shock”. It was an unmissable opportunity to exploit the effect of chocolate on our senses and nervous system. (I will do a blog post on this later.) Another odd interesting fact is the French common name for calendula is “Soucis” which means “worries”. I wonder if it is so called because it can dispel any concerns about skin emergencies?
My time spent in France was rich in learning and saturated with birdsong, and it was with sadness that I finally decided to return to the UK in 2020. The bureaucratic and practical complications of Brexit resulted in separation between myself and my family who were now on the opposite side of a divide, rather than just across the water. In the midst of Covid I moved to a small village in North Devon, where I plan to stay until it becomes impractical and ill-advised! (My house is built into a hillside so life involves many steps.) If anyone fancies a visit I have Airbnb accommodation
I didn’t rush into setting up a homeopathic practice here as life wasn’t “normal” when I arrived, and everything was happening more slowly than usual. As well as the effect of Covid on general life there was something else that slowed me down. Having moved into a new house I did a lot of decorating and as a result of being over-exposed to fumes from acrylic paints I developed horrible vertigo, which plagued me and compromised my health profoundly. The up-side of this is that I did my own research into the natural treatment of vertigo and, through homeopathy and nutrition, have alighted on an approach which appears to provide a complete cure. To further this research I am now particularly interested in treating people with chronic vertigo and affections of the autonomic nervous system, and am offering reduced rates for patients with these conditions.
Whilst having to be fairly sedentary due to the vertigo I took up two further courses of study. I obtained a Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences and a Diploma in Counselling. I still feel a bit of a newbie in the North Devon community and am hoping to gradually widen my circle of friends here. I’m involved in a small local group called “Earthkind” which is all about anything eco and environmentally sympathetic. We recently obtained permission and funding to replace the grass verge at the top of the village with native wildflowers. A work in progress, watch this space…
For my own New Leaf herbs and wild flower ingredients I have my back garden. I still derive huge pleasure from taking a herb from start to finish – from watching it sprout in the spring, to harvesting it several months later, and infusing it in oil or alcohol and then using it in a recipe for a cream or other skincare product. Nature is so miraculous…
There is some satisfaction in the knowledge that the calendula (old English marigolds), now established in my garden, has descended from ancestor seeds that I bought online from Devon, way back in 2008. I fell in love with Devon when I first visited at the age of eleven, but I never dreamed I could live here. Like my marigolds, it feels like the closing of a circle.
The short version: 1974-75 Shop assistant Holland and Barrett, studied alternative therapies, diet etc.
1976-77 Went to music college to do ‘A’ level but left after one year.
1977-78 Travelled within Europe, qualified in massage, reflexology and metamorphic technique. (ITEC Diplomas from the Churchill Centre, London.)
1981 Motherhood began!
1983-87 Counselling training, volunteer counsellor at a women’s project in Deptford, S.E.London.
1988-92 Homeopathy training, Licentiate of the College of Homeopathy (LCH)
1989-2007 Worked for Helios Pharmacy.
1991-1994 Taught homeopathy evening class.
1992 Began homeopathic practice.
1994 Enrolled as a Member of the College of Homeopathy (MCH) (next level up from LCH.)
1994-97 Complementary Therapy Department, Lewisham Hospital, S.E.London.
1995 Moved to Hastings.
1999-2005 Member of European Forum for Vaccine Vigilance.
1999 Trained in Brain Gym. Certified by the Educational Kinesiology Foundation.
2000 Started Kaleidoscope Programme for children with learning difficulties.
2000 Started using QXCI biofeedback machine. Trained and certified by the College of Bioresonance.
2001 Did “Touch For Health” through the International Kinesiology College.
2002 Did “Brain Integration” training with Dr Charles Krebs, Melbourne Applied Physiology. Ran teacher training sessions at INSET days in schools.
2007 Purchased land near Brightling for planting trees and growing organic herbs.
2008 Developed New Leaf, a range of natural, herbal skincare products.
2008-2013 Did relief work with Autism Sussex.
2011 Obtained Level 4 Diploma in Herbalism. NCFE, Ofqual regulated.
2013 Moved to France and started selling New Leaf products in French markets
2020 Admitted post-Brexit defeat and returned to the UK, landing in North Devon.
2020 Set up Airbnb accommodation
2022 Obtained Level 2 in Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences. NCFE, Ofqual regulated.
2022 Obtained Diploma in Counselling. NCFE, Ofqual regulated.
If you stuck it out to the end you deserve a medal ;) Thank you.