We are fortunate to have a fantastic staff team here at Secret Garden which form part of our wider community. A community of friends, families, children, directors, staff and volunteers. Everyone contributes and everyone is valued.

If you would like to read more about being involved with the nursery in some way then please head over to our Get Involved page.

Care Manager & Lead Practitioner- currently vacant. For any interested applicants, please see information on the Home Page of this website.

Emma Goodfellow:
Assistant Care Manager & Woods Practitioner

Emma has had a lifelong passion for the environment and studied Geography at University. Having moved to the area with their family in 2013, Emma loves the hills and coast of North East Fife and Scotland. At home they enjoy gardening and growing food with their young family. Their children attended The Secret Garden where they fell in love with the ethos of the nursery and the thoughtful way the nursery staff worked with the children. Before starting a family, Emma managed a Tayside-wide children`s health and wellbeing project and like many before, has seen the benefits of raising a family connected to nature, the outdoors and being brought up using gentle and fun methods. Emma is now working to help other families to do the same by sidestepping into being an outdoor nursery practitioner.

Vicky Hobba:
Administration Manager & Woods Practitioner

Vicky qualified as an early years educator and a student welfare worker in Australia where they lived for 14 years before returning home to Scotland. They also have a background in environmental law and education administration and has trained and facilitated various personal growth and emergency preparedness courses for adults and children. Vicky has embraced a peaceful parenting philosophy with their own children and cat and is excited to be learning about the Hand in Hand approach used at the Secret Garden. Following a fairly wild childhood exploring Scottish woodlands and an adulthood delighting in the native animals and bush tucker of Australia, Vicky is grateful for the opportunity to help children immerse themselves in nature at the Secret Garden

Naomi Ellis-Morton:
Senior Woods Practitioner

Naomi lives locally in Collessie and has a background in Design and Art Therapy, she also enjoys being outdoors and the inspiration nature brings. Having been one of the first Secret Garden Directors and seeing her own children thrive at the nursery Naomi finds it very fulfilling to be a permanent member of staff and share in the unique experience the children have. 

Anna Kinross:
Senior Sessional Training and Workshop coordinator

As well as being a Secret Garden woods practitioner, Anna is also an ex-secret Garden parent with a strong commitment to giving all children opportunities to play and learn outside in nature. When not working or playing in the woods, Anna is a keen gardener and food grower. She also helps organise the nursery garden for us. She has an interest in plant medicine and loves to spend time outside foraging and connecting with plants. She also works as a feltmeker and has made some beautiful pieces including a forest scene wall-hanging which is currently on display in our office. 

Karen Valentine:
Senior Woods Practitioner

Karen has been a Forest School Leader for over 10 years, working with primary and pre-school children across Fife. As a member of of West Fife OWL (Outdoor and Woodland Learning) Group, she helps promote learning and playing outdoors to schools and nurseries. Karen loves being outdoors, whether it is in the beautiful Secret Garden woods, walking her dog, climbing mountains or playing golf. She also enjoys growing vegetables in her garden and helping out with the nursery garden too. 

Louise Durrant:
Director and Training Facilitator

Louise has been inspired by and involved in the Secret Garden since its beginnings. She started as a Secret Garden parent, with both her children attending the nursery, then worked as a woods practitioner with many wonderful children over the course of 6 years.  Louise also enjoys working with adults and facilitates Secret Garden “In the Woods” workshops for practitioners, educators and other people interested in the practice and workings of the Secret Garden. Louise is a certified instructor of Hand in Hand Parenting, and loves teaching the listening tools that are used by Secret Garden practitioners to both parents and educators. Louise is currently home educating her almost teenage daughter, continuing to learn loads about education, nature, play, parenting and young people. At Secret Garden Louise relishes her role in training, staff mentoring, and workshop facilitation. Louise believes in meeting people where they are at and working with whatever they bring. Louise is also a Director of the Secret Garden.

Mazz Brown:
Sessional Woods Practitioner/Content Manager

Mazz is a qualified Early Years Practitioner and also manages the Secret Garden blog and newsletter. She grew up attending an educational camping charity which instilled in her a love of the outdoors, as well as a passion for building community.

Mazz has fond memories of running amok in various beautiful sites around the UK and is delighted to be facilitating similar nature connection-based play for the children at the Secret Garden. She has worked with children and young people on and off for over 15 years, and as well as her roles here she is a Youth Mentor with the charity Light Up Learning.

Mazz is a firm believer in the power of nature to spark creativity and enjoys composing piano music, and writing poetry and stories for all ages.

Laura McDonald:
Woods Practitioner

Laura started in the sessional team in August 2019 and is a qualified Early Years Practitioner. Laura has a background in IT but embarked on a change of career after her son was born and she was struck by the importance of a child’s experiences in their early years. Laura practices a gentle / respectful parenting philosophy at home and fully embraces the nurturing ethos of the Secret Garden. Laura enjoys the freedom of being outdoors and spends as much of her spare time as possible in nature with her partner, son and rescue Greyhound.

Claire McGarrie:
Woods Practitioner

Claire has a lifelong passion for nature and a particular love of trees and woodland.  Perhaps she has elf blood?  She simply loves being outside in her natural environment with other woodland-loving human beings; tending to their needs and helping to facilitate their personal expansion through free play. Helping to create a safe space which nurtures a child’s growth but at the same time allows for the expression of fun. For several years now Claire has also worked as a Natural Therapist and has run her own meditation and healing retreats and workshops. She has learnt through this work that both adults and children alike learn best when they feel happy and safe. Claire is an ex nursery parent and her daughter spent several years in the woods at the Secret Garden. 

Emma Brown:
Woods Practitioner

Emma has over ten years experience working with young children as a Primary teacher and formerly working in child health. Growing up in Fife , Emma has fond memories of playing in the woods and fields near her family home where she developed a connection to the natural environment as a place to explore, play and learn. As a Secret  Garden parent, she has witnessed the positive impact the outdoor nursery experience has had on her children’s personal development. Having listened to her daughter’s stories of the fun she has in the woods, Emma started volunteering at the nursery and since August 2019 has joined the staff team. 

Claudia Ortiz:
Sessional Woods Practitioner

Claudia has previously worked on our permanent team and has stepped into a sessional role recently in order to concentrate on other opportunities. Claudia has vivid memories of going into the wild places in her native Colombia; the tarantulas hiding in wellington boots, the massive beetles and the pretty heads of snakes, the amazing flowers and yummy fruits. Claudia is a qualified yoga teacher, an Early Years Officer and has trained to deliver mindfullness with the Mindfullness in Schools Project. Claudia is very excited to be at the Secret Garden to enjoy the woods and share her love of the outdoors with children, parents and team mates.

Angela Lumsden:
Woods Practitioner

Angela has a diverse and creative background. She is Dutch/Canadian and has also lived in Israel in her younger years. Angela has a creative background teaching dance and choreographing musicals. This has given her a playful, creative and open minded perspective in life. She has always been very active and enjoys being outdoors and reconnecting with Nature. After having her own two children Angela became fascinated learning about child development. Through her own journey as a mother she has deepened her awareness of emotional intelligence and her growing understanding of the impact this has on children’s confidence, needed for building connections with ourselves and the world around us. Angela is passionate about providing a foundation for children to blossom in their beautiful true selves, bringing quality and natural ways of learning to children’s education.

Hazel Horne:
Sessional Woods Practitioner

Hazel is a passionate about family, friends,  the elderly in her community and young people. When she was 18 she worked in a care home for 3 years before joining the Scottish Ambulance Service at 21. She qualified as an LTA tennis coach the same year. Hazel then took a break from the Ambulance Service to raise her two boys and to also help raise her growing family of nieces and nephews! She has so many fond memories of taking everyone out for picnics and adventures around Fife. Hazel then returned to work and spent 16 years with Fife Council’s Pupil Support service. Her job involved caring for the social, emotional and physical needs of primary aged pupils. It was working in this role that Hazel witnessed the wonders that the outdoors and nature could play in supporting children’s development and learning. Hazel joined the team in August 2021 and when she is not in the woods you can find her hiking up a munro with her sister, walking with her friends and tending her garden.

Karen McLean:
Woods Practitioner

Karen joined us as a student placement whilst studying for her HNC in Childhood Practice and bringing up her young family. She has now qualified and joined us on our permanent staff team. Karen loves being outside and has a huge passion for outdoor play that has evolved from seeing how nature creating endless opportunities and meaningful experiences for her children. She also volunteers at the Nature Nursery, which is part of the Methilhill Community Children’s Initiative to gain further experience working with children ages 2.5-5 in an outdoor setting. Karen also volunteers at her local gardening group, helping to develop their “Wild Play Space” and giving families in the community a safe place to play freely in a natural environment. She is so thankful to get this opportunity to work with staff at Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery and gain all the experiences to develop my knowledge working in a fully outdoor setting.

Yolanda Vico-Tienda:
Sessional Woods Practitioner

Yolanda, also known as Yoli, is originally from a seaside town in Catalonia and now resides in Cupar.
She is a qualified Early Years Officer and a Primary Teacher, specializing in Computing and Arts, with over 15 years of experience working with children ranging in age from 0 years old to nearly adulthood.

As she loves songs and stories, she has trained as a Bookbug session leader to bring children songs in different languages and even introduce them to some words in Spanish! At the moment, she is learning how to play nursery rhymes on her yellow ukulele to soon incorporate it into her Bookbug sessions!

Yolanda stands in the woods in her purple Secret Garden coat.

Hoiki Kong (Ivy):
Sessional Woods Practitoner

Hoiki Kong, known as Ivy at the Secret Garden, joined the sessional team in August 2022 after volunteering in the Secret Garden while finishing up her study of Higher Certification of Early Childhood at the Open University.

Ivy was brought up in Hong Kong. Before putting her roots down in Scotland, she had spent over 5 years volunteering at a number of small family-owned agricultural farms and bakeries in England,Scotland,Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. The joy of working with nature when looking after animals and growing vegetables, and the pleasure of seeing the communities enjoy the nutritional food and bread she makes, change the way she lives. She believes in the benefits of being in nature, especially for the development of young children, and wants to encourage them to go outdoor and play freely when they can.

She now enjoys sharing her happiness by exploring beautiful woodland and hills in Scotland with friends, working in gardens and playing with young children in the woods in different weathers and seasons.

A photo of Ivy standing against a backdrop of fields.