Deben Valley Equine

01728 685 123 (24 hr)
High House Farm, Birds Lane, Framsden, Stowmarket IP14 6HR

Meet Our Team


Helen Whitbread

Helen graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1990. She started her career in mixed practice in Suffolk before taking up equine practice in Essex and then Kent. A university post at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Sciences in Edinburgh followed, where she built on her interest in diagnostic imaging and obtained her Certificate in Veterinary Radiology. Helen likes radiographs (Xrays) & ultrasound scanning; she confesses to being obsessed about getting perfect images.

Helen returned to Suffolk in 1999 and in 2002 established Deben Valley Equine Veterinary Clinic. She has a special interest in back problems and poor performance. Helen has a logical mind and is passionate about the correct diagnosis and best treatment for any horse and their owner. She is keen to adopt a holistic approach to equine treatments and is enthusiastic about using other therapists as well as her own acupuncture skills.

Helen has ridden since the 1970s, and so can well sympathise with the ups and downs of horse ownership! Helen has had a lot of fun with her own horses over the years; her current mare is known as Hot Tottie for reasons all too apparent to those who have seen her perform! Helen is married to Stuart Ford, and has three children, Archie and twins Emma and Kate; plus Charles the slightly odd, but loveable black Labrador.

Grace Starling Smith

Grace graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, London and joined us in August 2015. Grace particularly enjoys poor performance and lameness cases as well as routine health care and dentistry. Grace also sits on the BEVA Trust Committee, which provides veterinary support for a variety of charities to improve horse welfare in the UK and worldwide. In her spare time Grace enjoys eventing her horse, Molly, and walking Springer Spaniel, Tess.

Nicky Windell

Nicky is a qualified veterinary nurse who joined us in April 2003. Nicky owns two welsh cobs Taffy and Tilly, and has a daughter Rachel and son, Tom. Nicky takes pride in looking after our in-patients and is a vital part of the team caring for your horse. She enjoys gardening, walking her dogs and hill climbing with partner Chris. Nicky has recently become a proud nanny to granddaughter Margot.

Joanne Calver

Jo comes from a farming background and for 10 years was a veterinary nurse/receptionist with local mixed practices in her younger days. Life changes saw her enter into teaching and supporting students at an agricultural college before she moved into supporting students in Higher Education. Jo is currently helping us out with marketing and advertising the practice.

Cathy Woollard

Cathy Woollard joined Deben Valley Equine in February 2013 as a part time receptionist. Cathy owns two horses and also has some feline friends. Cathy has previously worked in the public sector managing various projects and we expect Cathy to keep our reception highly organised. Cathy is very adaptive and has provided voluntary support to the Museum of East Anglian Life for the past 2 years nurturing her interest in the outdoor life and local heritage / traditional skills.

Stuart Ford

Book keeper, husband and dedicated Dad to Helen's handsome son, Archie and beautiful daughters Emma and Kate.

Alice Croft

Alice joins the team as a part time Practice Administrator dealing with reception and administrative matters such as insurance and account management. Alice is Suffolk born and bred. She attended Woodbridge School and has ridden since the age of 5. Alice currently owns and regularly competes her horse Higglytown Hero. Alice also has a gorgeous Burmese cat called Mr Meowski.