Meet The Team

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Esther Blakey

Unit Manager | Lecturer

I qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 2003 and went to on to become head nurse of a first opinion practice, where I also took on role of clinical coach/assessor supporting student nurses in their training.  I moved into teaching in 2005 joining Writtle University College as an Animal Management/Veterinary Nursing lecturer and course tutor gaining my Certificate of Education through Greenwich University.  In the following 9 years I worked to develop alternative education programmes for 14–16-year-olds and qualified as an Assessor and Verifier, whilst also guest lecturing on the Animal Science Degree.  In 2015 I achieved her Level 4 Award in Canine Hydrotherapy to support the development of the hydrotherapy unit at Writtle University College.  I joined the ASU@SWCHS in 2016 where I have led the team to gaining approval to offer City and Guilds qualifications, I am passionate about education and animal welfare and support the staff in championing the animals they are responsible for. In my spare time I can be found exercising/working my two-gun dogs, horse riding and spending time with my family. 


Gemma Barton


I have always had a passion for animals, but for the most part this has been directed towards horses. I went to Hartpury college in 2013 and gained my Bachelor's degree in Equine Science and then went on to become qualified as an Equine Veterinary Physiotherapy. I run my Physiotherapy business in my own time, and have had a few different jobs working in the Equine industry since university, but have uncovered a secret passion for teaching since starting at The ASU. I have found working with a wider variety of animals very rewarding and enjoy the new challenges that working with different species brings. My favourite modules are Anatomy and Physiology and Biology which I teach at level 2 and 3, and I oversee the ferrets, chickens, goats and pigs in the unit. I have found a particular interest in chicken breeding recently and will hopefully have some exciting breeds coming through for everyone to see!


Hannah Kent

Guest Lecturer

I’m Hannah and I am a teacher and an animal biologist, and I have recently progressed my career by joining the Ministry of Justice. My specialisms are animal behaviour, wildlife rehabilitation, and animal welfare law. I always want to be learning and worked towards courses at master’s level, as well as gaining my full teaching qualification. As a member of the Royal Society of Biologists, I am dedicated to science and research, although my heart revolves around the education industry. I regularly visit the ASU and do guest lecturing with the students, sharing stories about my experiences working in the animal industry. I take on unwanted reptiles and rehabilitate them, and often they are fit enough to join the ASU exotics room. My main motivations when teaching is to get students to argue their own opinions on what is acceptable ethically by providing them with unbiased information. My career goals involve improving animal welfare and education nationally.


Kiera Monk


I started my career working with animals as a teenager working in a riding school, since then I have gained experience working in rescue with cats, rabbits and wildlife as well as completed my Level 3 Animal Management. I became employed at the ASU in 2019 having previously done two years' work experience during the time I was completing my Level 3. In my free time I enjoy training and competing in dog agility.


Amber Jackson


I have always had a passion for animals and wanting to work with them from a young age. I have always known that animals are what I wanted to work with, and this became a reality when I started at the ASU in 2017. I first started at the ASU as a student, and I went on to do both the courses a level 2 Animal Care and a level 3 Animal Management. While completing these courses I gained a lot of knowledge about many different species of animals and how to correctly care for them. After I completed my courses I was then offered a position as an animal technician. This means that it is my job to look after the animals that we house in the unit. As welling as caring for the animals that I have to care for on the ASU I also have care for my two cats and my royal python.

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