Our Vets

Jo Bellis BVM&S MRCVS, Cat advocate

Practice Principal

Since January 2019 Jo has become the new principal of Downwood Veterinary Practice Ltd. She is keen for Downwood to remain the friendly, independent practice that Robin spent many years creating, providing high quality medical and surgical services for your pet.

Jo qualified from Edinburgh University In 2006 and after 4 years of working in mixed practices she became a small animal locum working locally.
She enjoys all aspects of small animal practice but has a keen interest in small animal surgery and she is a qualified acupuncturist.

Jo is married and lives with Ian, an equine Vet.  They have 2  children and share their house with their rescue dog, two cats  and three alpacas!

Outside work Jo enjoys spending time with her family and the occasional round of golf.


Claire Elder BVMS, MRCVS.  Cat advocate

Claire qualified from The University of Glasgow in 2015, She spent a year in mixed practice in her home county of Aberdeenshire. Following that she completed a years internship at an orthopaedic referral centre just north of Aberdeen.

Claire located to the (much warmer!) South East and joined us at the end of October 2017. She is enjoying the wide variety of cases and has just begun studying for a  certificate which will keep her busy over the next few years.

Out of work she enjoys horse riding ( especially dressage), socialising with friends, running and training her very cute whippet puppy!



Sarah Pile BVM&S MRCVS

Sarah qualified as a vet from Edinburgh University in 2003. 

She initially worked for 5 years in mixed practice in Newcastle before moving south to concentrate on just small animal work.  Sarah works at the practice part time as she has a young family and a large number of pets / small farm herself including her big lurcher Pluto...  You may see Pluto lying patiently at Reception.

Joanna Bednarska PhD MRCVS

Joanna qualified in Poland in 2006, soon after, she took on a small animal vet position at the practice she had been helping at, and gaining  her practical experience as a veterinary student in.

After completing her doctoral thesis, Joanna decided to move to the UK, along with her husband. She had been working in a busy, small animal practice in Wales for six years and then decided to move to Kent and continue to treat small animals. 

Her professional interests include: internal medicine, diagnostic imaging and critical care. 

Over the last ten years she has been taking part in voluntary neutering clinics, helping stray dogs and cats in Greece. 

In her spare time Joanna can be found exploring countryside together with her husband and their Gordon Setter. 

Tom McNaughton BVSc MRCVS

Tom graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from Massey University, New Zealand in 2010.

He spent his first year in practice as an intern at a specialist clinic in Auckland, before returning to the UK where he grew up.

Since then he has been working in small animal practices across the South East and has neutered over 600 cats for charity projects in Greece.

He joined the Downwood team in October 2021.

At home, Tom is married to a wildlife vet, has a young son and two excitable cats, Orca (pictured) and Lomu.

In his spare time, he enjoys outings with his family, cycling along the South Downs and the occasional game of tennis.

Administration team

 

Maria Brett VPAC APHC - Practice Manager, Cat Advocate

Maria has been working within the Veterinary Profession for the past 30 years, previously nursing and then in administration and management.  She joined us as Practice Manager in 2007. 

Maria is also an advanced Pet Health counsellor, she runs our weight clinics and is a mental health first aider. In 2019 Maria also competed a course on bereavement support. ( read about bereavement support on "saying goodbye" tab).

In her spare time she enjoys  looking after her 2 cats, guinea pigs and her rescue dog Ollie.

Maria is married and met her husband Phil who worked for a local animal rescue centre, at Downwood!  




Tina Givan - ANA

Tina joined our reception team in 2000 and since then she has attended college to gain her ANA ( Animal Nursing Assistant)

qualification in 2005 with a distinction.

Out of work she enjoys  socialising with friends and she enjoys spending time with her family including her young grand daughter



Jan James

Jan has worked as a receptionist at the Downwood Veterinary Centre since February 2006.

She has had many years experience dealing with the public in various working environments.

In her spare time she enjoys walking her new rescue Lhaso Apso "Pebble", socialising with friends, eating out and foreign travel.

At weekends she is an avid clay pigeon shooter with a local club, she has won a couple of C class competitions.

She has recently become a Grandmother and is enjoying spending time with her new grandson.


Nursing team

Natalie Roberts RVN. Head Nurse, cat advocate

Natalie qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 1998 and became Head Nurse at a local practice.  She changed careers in 2002 and joined a

Veterinary pharmaceutical and equipment company where she sold equipment and consumables but missed the nursing side of the job, so left and resumed Veterinary Nursing.

Natalie really enjoys general nursing, she has a special interest in theatre, anaesthesia and inpatient care.  

She joined Downwood Veterinary Centre as Head Nurse in 2004, She is also our Insurance claims administrator, fixer of all things and our IT specialist!!

She lives locally with her husband, their 2 boys and their crazy  Hungarian Vizsla called "Vinnie".

She enjoys baking, walking, socialising with friends, going to the cinema and dining out. She also enjoys foreign travel especially cruises!


Annette Smith

Annette joined Downwood Centre in March 2021 after an 8 year break from Veterinary Nursing.  Annette qualified in 2005

as a Veterinary Nurse, after quite a few years in practice she went on to teach Veterinary Nursing at Plumpton College. 

Annette is also a qualified equine and human sports massage therapist which she does in her spare time.

She lives locally with her husband, 2 girls, a black lab called Sparky and their 2 cats Poppy and Twinkle.

When she has any spare time, she enjoys keeping fit, walking, socialising with friends and eating out.


Chloe Goatcher RVN

Chloe also joined us in March 2021. Chloe has been nursing for the past 7 years and qualified in 2020. 

She has a passion for inpatient care and general nursing. She loves working as part of a team and also enjoys nurse clinics.

Chloe lives locally with her husband, 2 young children and her pet gecko Cooper.

In her spare time Chloe enjoys family walks, socialising with friends and attending the odd dance class!




Rebecca saunders RVN

Rebecca qualified as a veterinary nurse in 2004. Since then she has worked at a variety of local practices as head nurse, senior nurse

and clinical coach.

She has also spent a period of time teaching veterinary nursing at the local agricultural college.
You may remember that Rebecca Previously worked at Downwood (for 12years) and she has just rejoined the team as RVN and clinical coach.

She enjoys all aspects of nursing but especially mentoring the student nurses and nursing clinics.
She lives with her husband, 2 children, dog, 2 cats, 2 rabbits and plenty of fish!

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Jackie Flitter ANA

Jackie joined us at Downwood Veterinary Centre in 2003 after deciding on a career change following 20 years in hairdressing.

She attended Brinsbury College one day a week and gained her ANA ( Animal Nursing Assistant) qualification in 2006.

Jackie shares her family home with her 5 cats! and their dog Rosie.

Jackie likes to spend her time with her 3 children and her 3 grandchildren who keep her very busy! She also likes gardening, cooking,

exploring new walks with their young dog. 

She has also recently found a love for cruises and is looking forward to planning  more in the future!

Farrah Lusted ANA

Farrah started with us part time in October 2018. She has just recently completed her training at Plumpton and gained her ANA ( Animal nursing assistant ) qualification with a distinction! Farrah is continuing her training to become a fully qualified RVN

Since leaving School she has worked with horses at various competition yards, but due to a bad accident in 2016 and after much soul searching in Australia she decided that she still wanted to work with animals ... just smaller ones!

Farrah and her family have been clients of ours for over 15 years and found out about a position whilst Merlin her lovely lurcher was in with a cat pad. In her spare time she enjoys baking, socialising with friends and family and loves walking the dog, riding and competing.