Sarah Jane Williamson – Chief Executive
My career has spanned education, public health management and the charity sector at national level. I have extensive experience of leading innovation and improvement in health services and in organisational design, transformation and governance.
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s work in equine welfare is more relevant than ever from an ethical, environmental and ecological viewpoint and we are in a unique position to contribute to the global conversations about these.
The charity was founded on the principles that horses and ponies, as sentient beings and close companions to humans over the centuries, have a value and a purpose. We – and our wonderful supporters – believe this continues to be relevant in the 21st century, if not more so as people of all ages risk becoming disconnected from the natural world.
Having specialised in the mental health of children, young people and adults throughout my career, our work to reconnect horses, ponies and people to benefit each other’s health and wellbeing, is close to my heart.
Dawn Vincent – Director of Fundraising and Communications
Since a young age, I have been involved with horses, ponies, donkeys and mules and I absolutely adore them.
I was delighted to join The Mare and Foal Sanctuary in March 2019 after a career of more than 20 years working at The Donkey Sanctuary, a charity my Granny (Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE) founded. There, I had the privilege of working alongside Granny for many years, and I developed an extensive breadth of experience and knowledge of the charity and its fundraising and communications needs.
I was really drawn to this role at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary as I felt I could help make a difference at another deserving charity. I loved the ambitious strategic plans created by the team to make the world a better place for horses and ponies, and now I’m here playing my part in it, together with our incredibly loyal supporters who so generously donate and help us out in various ways.
Iain Wylie – Chief Operating Officer
I have a background, built over the last 25 years, in traditional estate management, modern facilities management and environmental practice. My driving passion is ensuring organisational sustainability is at the forefront of the decisions that we make together as a charity.
I thoroughly enjoy the process of building and leading high-performing teams. I’ve learned this is best achieved through solid professional relationships based on trust, kindness and respect.
I bring my own style, a logical mind and common-sense approach to my role here at the sanctuary and I relish the daily challenges and successes that come with it.
I am privileged to be part of a charity with such a great heritage and I am looking forward to the future.
Syra Bowden – Head of Equine Welfare
As my mother founded the Sanctuary, I have been privileged to follow the journey of every horse and pony we have rescued, from the moment they come in.
In the early days where we struggled to make ends meet; ‘making do’ and stretching every penny to its limit, where we often shared yards and relied on people’s kindness to get by. Now, the support for mum’s legacy has grown and developed into a successful charity thanks to the extensive support we have from our loyal donors.
Throughout I have got to know and work with some incredible people. Their commitment and dedication is truly humbling and inspiring. I love what we do, the difference we make and I am looking forward to what the future holds, as I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.
Irene Breckenridge – Head of People and Culture
I began working in People and Culture over twenty years ago and have mostly worked in the hospitality sector. I moved down to Devon from the Highlands around 10 years ago to be with my partner and continued to work within People and Culture in education and hospitality before coming to The Mare and Foal Sanctuary.
The world of People and Culture is constantly changing which means there is always lots to do. I have relished the challenge of coming to work at the sanctuary. Developing policies and approaches that align with the charity’s values has been particularly rewarding. For me, the key to People and Culture being successful and having a positive impact is building relationships and immersing yourself in the ethos of an organisation. I’m excited to make a real difference at the sanctuary and to play my part in moving the organisation forward.
As an animal lover, I’ve enjoyed learning about the equines we care for here at the charity. I am always impressed by the amazing impact our work has on these beautiful creatures.
Sally Burton – Head of Sanctuary Care
I have always loved horses and wanted to work with them. I’ve worked full time in the equine industry since I was 17 in showjumping, eventing, racing and private yards but since joining the sanctuary I‘ve realised how much I enjoy working in equine welfare and wouldn’t want to do anything else. Alongside the practical experience I have gained, I’m qualified in Equine Legislation, Welfare and Field Skills. I am also trained as a fully accredited equine assisted learning facilitator.
As Head of Sanctuary Care, I lead our horse care teams and ensure we follow best practice. I enjoy developing our approach to help improve the lives of as many horses as possible.
I strongly believe that every horse should experience the best welfare we can possibly provide. Welfare isn’t something we should only talk about when horses are experiencing poor welfare. Often, it’s the small but important changes that can have the greatest impact.
Dawn Neil – Head of Education
My background is in primary education as a qualified teacher with school leadership experience. I have lived experience of the benefits of being with horses and ponies from a young age and love being outdoors in nature with them.
I am passionate about the positive difference equine experiences can offer to everyone including children and young people and adults. Our Education and Equine Assisted Services team offer a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for people working with our rescued equine partners.
We have a unique approach to Equine Assisted Services that is both person-centred and equine-centred. For us, the key is creating a genuine connection and partnership between people and equines. Through our work, we support both people-based pathways in personal development, development of transferable life skills and steps towards employability, as well as supporting pathways to rehoming for our rescued horses and ponies.
Horses and ponies have made a huge difference in my life. I consider it a great privilege that I can now share the positive effects of human-equine interaction with others who may not otherwise have been able to experience it.