Axe Valley Staff - Vets feature

Axe Valley Staff - Vets


Dave Kemp BVSc MRCVS

Dave qualified from Bristol University in 1994. His first job was in a mixed practice in the Forest of Dean area which gave him a solid grounding in all aspects of Veterinary Medicine.

After three years he wanted to experience working in other practices so began 3 years working as a locum Veterinary Surgeon working in many areas of the south of England and Wales. In May 2000 he came to Axe Valley, and stayed, becoming a partner in July 2004 when Mr Packer retired.

Dave describes himself as a good general practitioner, happy to take on the more complex medical and surgical cases, but is aware of the many Veterinary specialists in the area, to whom he is happy to consult with and refer where necessary. He is also an acupuncture practitioner. Having long arms he is often asked to calve cows where others cannot quite reach!


Louise Brooker BVetMed PG.Dip CACB MRCVS

Lou studied at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London along with Rachel Smith and Jo Wagstaff. She graduated in 1996. Lou initially worked in mixed practices in Mid Wales and Shropshire, before coming to Axe Valley in 1998. Lou became a Director in 2007 when Axe Valley became a Limited company.

Lou studied at Southampton University for her Post Graduate diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling. She has used this knowledge to develop a behaviourally aware ethos throughout the practice, which all staff try to use such as bribery for dogs and unique cat handling techniques.

Before Lou's leg gave way, she was one of the first female rugby union referees in the country, and refereed all over the south of England.

Lou has two rescue dogs, one mad collie called Meg and an ex-puppy farm cocker spaniel Gwen, who is often seen helping out in reception at Cheddar and Wells. Her weekends are spent trying wear to them out! Her two cats "Trouble" and "Strife" live up to their names and are well known in the village for their antics. 


Rachel Smith BVet Med MRCVS

Rachel graduated from the RVC in London with Lou Brooker and Jo Wagstaff. Having grown up on a dairy farm in Kent her main area of interest is dairy cows, but she has always enjoyed a mixed practice.

Her veterinary career began in a small mixed practice in rural Mid-Devon. 2 years later she then moved to a mixed practice on the Norfolk - Suffolk border spending 7 years as a truly mixed practice Vet.

Rachel joined Axe Valley in 2006 spending most of her day out on the road visiting our farm clients. She is a great all-rounder and is happy to turn her hand to all aspects of Veterinary Medicine including exotic species, especially tortoises, and has a keen interest in backyard poultry.

Rachel has completed a two year course in Veterinary Herbal Medicine, a complementary therapy which many of our clients have taken advantage of alongside their pet's conventional medicines.

She is kept busy in her spare time looking after the various animals on her small holding including pigs, sheep and assorted poultry. She also enjoys gardening, beekeeping and walking her 2 dogs Finlay and Dotty Myrtle.

Rachel is currently on maternity leave.


Alice Hole BVSc MRCVS

Alice is a Somerset girl born and bred. She studied Veterinary Science at Bristol University graduating in June 2006, joining Axe Valley soon after as a New Graduate.

Alice spends most of her time out on the road as a member of the Large Animal Veterinary Team enjoying all aspects of large animal work, be it medical or surgical. Alice is equally at home helping out the small animal team, consulting at Blackford, and helping out with surgical procedures.

Alice has one very special dog Peanut, two cats, pigs, chickens and a flock of sheep. She spends most of her spare time helping out on her husband's family dairy farm, on the tennis courts playing for the local tennis club, or out and about on her bicycle.


Becky Gay BVetMed MRCVS

Becky qualified from the RVC in July 2010, joining the practice's large animal team. She is Somerset born and bred, having been 'reared' on a local farm!

Becky enjoys all aspect of farm work with a strong focus on youngstock, surgery and preventative herd health. She is also keen to develop Axe Valley's Farmer meetings to aid in a more profitable future in farming.

Outside of work Becky enjoys rearing her own calves and walking her springer spaniel Millie across the moors.


Jo Wagstaff BSc BVetMed MRCVS

Jo qualified from the RVC with Lou and Rachel Smith having previously gained a degree in anatomy from Bristol University.

Jo began her Veterinary career working at a mixed practice in Chepstow for 5 years before moving to Somerset. She worked at a mixed practice in Cossington before joining Axe Valley in 2010. She now works mainly in our Woolavington Branch with Christiane, Emma, Val Howes and Val Ball, although she is a true mixed practitioner Jo also has a keen interest in ophthalmology.

In her spare time Jo likes to keep herself busy, spending time with her family which includes her son Josh, terrible terriers Kev and Pong and a one eyed rabbit called Bertha. She is also very sporty enjoying ski-ing, water ski-ing, scuba diving and is also a member of the local triathlon club.

Jo is on the board for the local Labrador rescue and has raised money by taking part in triathlons and also the Alcatraz swim.


Rachel Hiles BVSc MRCVS 

Rachel graduated from Bristol University in 2001 spending her first 10 years as a Vet in a small animal practice in Bristol before joining Axe Valley in 2011.

Professionally Rachel has achieved her GP certificate in Small Animal Medicine and is currently studying towards her Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice, and loves all things medical and surgical.

Rachel is known for setting herself some crazy challenges, running the London Marathon (twice) for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, and skydiving for the Frank Water Charity. She also has a reputation for making rather excellent Flapjacks.


Harriet Luker-Coombs BVetMed MRCVS

Harriet qualified in 2011 from the Royal Veterinary College in London. Harriet spent her first 18 months at a mixed practice in Lincolnshire splitting her time between farm, equine and small animals.

Harriet joined Axe Valley in January 2013 where she spends most of her time with the small animal team however out of hours she's on call for farm and equine emergencies.

In her spare time Harriet can be found with her Dog on her partners dairy farm.

Emily Syms BVSc (Hons) MRCVS

Emily graduated from Bristol University in 2013 and was delighted to join the Axe Valley Team, having spent much of her time as a student here.

Originally from London, she is embracing the country lifestyle living on a local dairy farm with her very spoilt cat Beatrice.

Emily enjoys all aspects of Small Animal Veterinary Medicine, but has a keen interest in surgery, English Bull Terriers and all things feline!


Ian Wickham BSc BVetMed MRCVS

Ian qualified from the RCV in 2016, having previously gained a degree in animal reproduction and infectious disease, and joined the team fresh from university.

Originally from the Isle of Wight, Ian decided to move to the South West to pursue his interest in farm and equine practice. Though he doesn't mind helping with the small animals, especially when it comes to surgery.

Outside of work Ian is a keen kayaker and mountain biker and much of the time can be found walking his Springer Spaniel, Holly. 

Jenny Simmons BVSc MRCVS

Jenny grew up in North Bristol and has recently moved to Cheddar after completing her vet degree at the University of Bristol in July 2016. 

In her spare time Jenny volunteers as a staff member in the Air Training Corps and she especially enjoys cooking. When Jenny is not working she likes to visit family and friends.  


Neil Wheadon BSc BVetMed MRCVS

Neil qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in1990 achieving an intercalated degree in human nutrition at Kings College, so feels duty bound to test all the cakes on offer at this practice.

Born in Weston Super Mare from a farming family, his father played football for Blackford, so feels at home here.

Starting in mixed practice, but has now graduated to small animal work and has an interest in Emergency Medicine and Critical care having worked for many years in emergency clinics.

Neil is our locum vet who comes and helps us out when the vets need an extra hand.

Married to Sarah who is also a vet, his main outside interest in organising and leading cycling tours all over the world, from India to China, America through to South Africa where in 2014 he came 13245th out of 35000 cyclists in the Cape Argos 106km race and was the first? across the line not dressed in lycra and carrying  a pannier.

Andy Morris BSc (Hons) BVSc Cert AVP (GSAS) MRCVS

Andy is our in house orthopaedic consultant.