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.
Clare Davis: Care Manager and lead practitioner.
Clare is very excited to be joining the Secret Garden team as care manager / lead practitioner. First sparked by experiences, 10 years ago, with her own small children, Clare’s interests in the benefits of being outdoors led her to a Secret Garden training day and then on to working all year round outdoors with children in a nature kindergarten.
In recent roles as Senior Practitioner and Team Leader at Fossoway Nursery, she has led teams to develop outdoor play in nursery, primary and childcare settings. Clare is passionate about sharing the benefits of nature play for children, families, and staff. She particularly enjoys the enthusiasm, creativity, joy, nurture, and balance that experiences in nature bring out in everyone involved.
Clare, and her now teenage family, enjoy walking their 1 year old cocker spaniel, horse riding, learning to play golf and gardening.
Administration Manager & Woods Practitioner
Vicky qualified as an early years educator and a student welfare worker in Australia where she lived for 14 years before returning home to Scotland. She also has 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 her own children, pet rats 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: Sessional Woods Practitioner, training and facilitation
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: 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
Mazz grew up involved with an educational camping charity with an emphasis on ‘learning by doing and teaching by being,’ a philosophy that she believes has been instrumental in steering her personal and professional life, as well as instilling in her a love of the outdoors. Mazz has worked in several urban nurseries as a support assistant, which has reinforced her belief that promoting play in a natural setting is the way to go, having been fortunate enough to experience this for herself! Mazz has fond memories of running amok in various beautiful sites around the UK and is thrilled to be able to faciliate similar experiences for the children of the Secret Garden. Her other hobbies include creative writing and yoga, both of which are greatly improved by regular forays into the wild places around her home in Dundee. Mazz is currently working towards her SVQ in children and young people.
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
Ellie McKay: Sessional Practitioner
Ellie is a fourth-year student on the Outdoor Education and Learning (BA) Hons Degree at Perth College UHI. She is interested in a career in the Outdoor Learning environment working with early years and primary age children in particular. Ellie has volunteered with the Secret Garden since 2019 and joined the sessional team at the end of 2020. She has lived in Fife her whole life and has been lucky enough to have been brought up always outdoors and exploring. In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking around the coast of Fife, dabbling in photography and exploring her local woodlands with her three spaniels.
Claudia Ortiz: Woods Practitioner
Claudia has been on our sessional team for over a year and from August 2021 has stepped into working more permanently in the woods. 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: 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.
Emma Goodfellow: Woods Practitioner
Emma has had a lifelong passion for the environment and studied Geography at University. Emma grew up in rural SE England in a small village but has moved progressively North, finally settling near Cupar. Having lived here for almost ten years, Emma loves the hills and coast of North East Fife. At home she enjoys her garden and growing food with her young family. Her children attended The Secret Garden where she 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 her, has seen the benefits of raising a family connected to nature, the outdoors and being brought up using gentle and fun methods. She is now working to help other families to do the same by sidestepping into being an outdoor nursery practitioner.