Our River Valley Staff Team are supported by the main business team behind ADO Services C.I.C. (formerly Animal Days Out), from our head office at Upper Wickham Lane, Welling. Our administration team supports the staff on the ground, delivering the HR, accounts, development, project management and school office and exam functions. The team are experienced in managing a very busy office and the resourcing necessary for students to have all the help and tools required to make their stay at River Valley an enjoyable and rewarding time.
Our Staff Team
ADO staff are a diverse and multi-functional team ensuring that we can provide the best educators and leaders for a whole range of programmes and learning opportunities as part of their study. We are proud that we have developed and trained many of our staff within, providing them with opportunities to grow with the company and flourish in their careers. We have skillsets and qualified staff across many disciplines, which enables us to have such a comprehensive, flexible and holistic approach. This includes proven experience in the fields of academia, therapy, youth work, outdoor adventure and sport PHSE for example. This provides the perfect solution for children and young people of all age groups, all abilities and those with SEND or SEMH.
Our staff team have a wide range of education experience teaching children, young people and adults in our areas of expertise. Our team include staff with qualifications and vocational teaching experience in the following areas;
♦ Mathematics ♦ English ♦ ICT ♦ Business Studies
♦ Animal Care and Science ♦ Equine Studies ♦ Horticulture ♦ Food Growing ♦ Woodland Management ♦ Bushcraft Practitioners ♦ Conservation
♦ Health & Social Care ♦ Youth Work
The needs of students are also supported by qualified therapists, who have certifications in;
♦ Animal Therapy ♦ Equine Therapy ♦ Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) ♦ Relaxation Therapy ♦ Mindfulness
♦ Occupational Therapy ♦ Neuro Linguistic Strategies
♦ Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) ♦ Able Training: Module 1,2 3 Foundation Level in- Positive Behavioural Support, De-escalation, Defense, Disengagement, Safeholding and Restraint.
Meet Our Team
It takes a lot of dedicated staff to run a specialised education setting! Let's meet the team involved. Click or tap each slider bar to open for the biography's.
Katie Palmer (née O'Brien) - Head of Alternative Provision (Associate Director)
As well as being the Head of the River Valley, Katie is also an Associate Director and Senior Therapist across the ADO business.
Katie has worked at ADO since 2013 and has gained a wealth of experience and skills. She started as a volunteer with the old Events Team and has worked incredibly hard to develop her career and progress within the business, becoming a senior therapist along the way. She leads the team on the ground at River Valley and is the Safeguarding and Quality Officer.
She is a Bushcraft Practitioner and has an Animal Assisted Therapy Diploma, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Diploma and Animal Management Diploma. With her knowledge and experience with therapy, Katie is able to advise and support all staff whilst working with service users with SEN, SEMH, challenging behaviour and EAL. Katie also holds a Stage One British Horse Society Qualification, Level Three EAT Award, and a Level Five Diploma in Education and Training.
Katie's interests include being outdoors with nature, going to music concerts, keeping fit and spending time with her family, friends and animals.
Victoria McHolland-Pilcher - Managing Director & Proprietor
The ADO Education and our therapeutic strategies are overseen by Victoria McHolland-Pilcher, our Managing Director. Prior to co-founding ADO, Victoria obtained over 15 years Project Management and Business Consultancy experience and qualifications working for large firms in London and her own consultancy company.
Victoria's life history includes a lifelong love of supporting youth and community programs and with a family heavily involved in youth and community, spent many summers supporting holiday schemes for deprived children and young people. Victoria has undertaken both the Forest School Leader Level 3 course and is also a Bushcraft Practitioner with several years of experience of implementing these programs within our range of services.
Victoria is a qualified Low Ropes Constructor and Instructor, has completed Suicide Assist training and also holds qualifications in Animal Assisted Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Relaxation Therapy and in more recent years, experience studying a range of equine training programs to bring horsemanship to young people.
Victoria's ambition to open a specialist outdoor education preschool came to fruition in February 2016 and concluded successfully in 2020 after obtaining Ofsted judgement 'Outstanding' in the first inspection. In parallel she developed a specialist outdoor education Alternative Provision which focuses on supporting Children and Young People with a range of difficulties. The setting specialises in Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties enabling CYP to achieve outdoor education vocational qualifications to support their career pathways and equip them with coping strategies to apply within their lives. This AP setting has grown year on year and along with our therapy services, is the main focus of ADO to extend and support more CYP through outdoor education and therapy, before our quest to obtain OFSTED registration for a further education independent school.
Victoria's interests include bushcraft, willow weaving, all outdoor pursuits and a passion for horse riding and natural horsemanship.
Gary McHolland-Pilcher - Chief Operating Officer & Company Secretary
Gary has over 22 years experience working in the City and West End of London within Information Technology, Telecoms, Sales and Company Operations. He has gained a huge skillset within all of these areas and he utilises them daily at ADO, as co-founder, to help develop the business aims and objectives. His knowledge and experience have helped grow ADO from a very small company into a thriving business, growing year on year.
As a company that continually develops, managing projects is the main part of his role. Large infrastructure projects included the facilitation of timber buildings on our Poets Corner site and the development to improve our infrastructure in anticipation of OFSTED registration. This was a result of an unprecedented success in gaining planning permission for these buildings, the first such case of a London Borough allowing this on metropolitan open land. The ongoing development of the land at Poets Corner includes restoring an ancient river running through our land! He is currently supporting a new marketing function within the company.
Gary has a degree in Computer Engineering, he is an ITIL Master and holds numerous business related or leadership certifications. He was recently nominated to take part in a series of workshops at the British Library, which gave access to some of the top consultants in London providing invaluable information which has helped move the company towards new horizons.
Gary's interests include most sports (armchair fan these days!), playing the guitar, music, being a solo artist singer-songwriter (Scarramooch), horticulture, UK Motorhome touring and long country walks.
Robert Jarvis - Lead Instructor and Manager (DSO)
Robert joined ADO in April 2019 and instantly proved himself as a confident and enthusiastic team member. He has worked his way up the company chain and now manages the day to day running of the on-site services at ADO’s Outdoor Healthcare and Education Centre. Robert started his career in outdoor education in 2009. Along the way, he has developed many skills and always enjoyed nurturing children and young people to get outdoors and try new experiences! Robert has a wealth of experience working with vulnerable clientele, and has run multiple residential Princes Trust Schemes.
Robert is the Lead Instructor and Manager for ADO. He supports the team on-site, assists with curriculum and lesson planning, runs lessons with students and manages the on-site staff. Robert holds qualifications in Rock Climbing, Paddle Sport, Mountain Biking, he is a Low Rope Instructor, an Archery leader and a qualified Mountain Leader. He also holds a Level Three Award in Education and Training, and is undergoing his Level Five Diploma.
In his spare time, when Robert isn’t climbing halfway up a mountain, he enjoys being outside on either his bike or in a boat.
Onsite River Valley Team
Emma Bronsdon - Outdoor Leader (Sports)
Emma joined our team in October 2018 as an Adventure Sports Apprentice, which was the start of her exciting journey of a career in Outdoor Education. Emma showed an abundance of dedication and passion during her apprenticeship and quickly completed this to become an Adventure Sports Educator. Emma dived headfirst into the ever-evolving and multi-skilled role and soon became a Bushcraft Practitioner. She has also achieved external sporting qualifications in Archery and Low Ropes.
Emma recently qualified in her Level Three Award in Education and Training, and is currently undergoing a Level Five Diploma.
She loves working at ADO and seeing the positive impact it has on our students. She feels lucky to be outside all day.
Emma's hobbies include spending time training her dog, creative art, exploring outside and practicing her bushcraft skills.
Charlotte Fenna - Animal Science Educator
Charlotte started with ADO in 2018 as an Animal Care Volunteer, offering her wide ranging skill set to assist with the animals husbandry on a daily basis. Charlotte's passion and dedication led her to become a full member of the team in 2019. She has since completed her Level 3 Animal Management BTEC Extended Diploma and Level 3 NCFE Education. She is currently working towards her Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training.
Charlotte runs Animal Science lessons with the students and ensures that animal welfare is to the highest standard possible. Charlotte is also the programme lead for the Animal Care BTEC Qualifications, in addition to the AQA Unit Awards relating to her specialist subject.
Charlotte enjoys working with the animals and being outdoors as she finds it very calming.
In her spare time, Charlotte enjoys reading, watching films and going to musicals.
Sara Buckley - Teaching Assistant & Therapist
Sara started with ADO in 2015 as an Event Leader for our historic Animal Encounter teams. Sara has shown a huge amount of dedication to ADO, and has worked incredibly hard work over the years to train in new areas, and improve her skills. Since starting with ADO, Sara has evolved within the company and has since obtained qualifications in Animal Assisted Therapy, Teaching Assistant Level 2 and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These valid qualifications have a positive impact on our students education.
Sara loves our ethos and enjoys being outside. She is always full of craft ideas to utilise nature to make beautiful displays and artwork.
Sara enjoys camping, dancing, and bushcraft. Sara has a passion for crafts and is extremely resourceful! She is always willing to learn new skills and has recently been developing her knowledge in willow weaving.
Theresa Salmon - Equine Therapist & Educator
Theresa joined the ADO team in September 2021 as a Level 4 Advanced Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator (Equine Assisted Qualifications). She has been working freelance in this field and is currently studying towards a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) qualification.
Theresa is excited at the prospect of being able to support other members of the ADO team, and wider stakeholders too.
She has worked extensively within the City Farm movement for over 25 years and has also gained numerous professional qualifications with the British Horse Society to Preliminary Teaching Certificate. More recently, Theresa has explored the healing arts and achieved the Equine Reiki Second Degree. Her formal education was in agriculture and Theresa holds a BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Business Management.
Theresa has spent many years working with animals, particularly horses and learners, but also enjoys spending time with her daughter, their dogs, food growing, admiring trees, and all things to do with the countryside and the natural world.
Michelle Brodie - Learning Support Staff
Michelle joined ADO in September 2020 to assist with our Education Services. With her bubbly and infectious personality, Michelle was an instant hit with the students. She has a vast amount of experience working with children and young people, both in this country and in America. Michelle started working with young people with SEN when she was 18 years old. She is incredibly passionate about working with the youth of today and has worked in youth support, youth clubs and in American summer camps. Michelle's favourite thing about working with children is that she loves a challenge.
With a passion for travelling, Michelle has visited many countries, including Vietnam and America. Whilst in New Zealand, Michelle did a sky dive over Lake Taupo! When she isn't on or throwing herself out of a plane, Michelle enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She has two daughters, 4 hamsters, a dog and plenty of sea monkeys, which keep multiplying!
Michelle holds a BSL Level 1, is a personal trainer and enjoys astronomy. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys being active and likes cycling, hiking and going to the gym. Her favourite thing about being outdoors is the fresh air and getting dirty.
Joe Greenwood - Land Support Supervisor
Joe joined ADO way back in May 2015. Our 6.5 acre site and grounds are maintained and up kept by Joe, who has a Level 2 in Horticulture. Joe works hard to ensure all of the outdoor areas at ADO are of a high standard and he has built many of the features and facilities too. These features include the bridges crossing the river, the hay barn, and he is responsible for all security fencing and gates on the perimeter. His daily tasks include risk assessing the land including the woodland and he is our nominated Fire Safety Officer. Alongside his daily maintenance tasks, he works very closely within the Operations Projects team to help design, resource, develop and build new features for the young people to enjoy.
As the team have grown and Joe's role has developed, he is now a key member of the team to ensure that the ADO land is both safe and functional for everyday education.
Joe is also trained in Chainsaw Maintenance and Cross Cutting and is working towards higher levels of tree surgery qualifications to tackle our large woodland.
In Joe's spare time, he enjoys listening to country music, fishing, woodwork, pyrography and running to keep fit.
Christina Harrison - Head Food Grower
Christina (Chrissy) has been with ADO since 2013 and has been based at Poets Corner, long before it was developed into our Education setting. Chrissy is the head Food Grower on site. The food growing area features beds and polytunnels, where she harvests mainly salad foods and vegetables. We also provide 'Vegetable Boxes' for the community which are sold with the revenues being re-invested back into the land.
Chrissy runs Horticulture sessions with our students and always welcomes them with a warm and smiley face. Chrissy also oversees and supports the students tending to their own herb garden areas. This promotes independence, responsibility and helps teach the students about growth and development. In addition to this, the horticulture lessons with Chrissy also promote mindfulness and self-care.
Having such fresh and delicious fresh foods available and helping to grow them helps us to promote healthy eating and well-being. We are also looking towards Chrissy to head up a new project in 2022 called 'Grow and Learn', where she will be visiting local schools advising and helping them set up their own sustainable growing areas.
Chrissy loves being outdoors in all weathers, tending to the salad beds. When she is not working her green fingers, Chrissy enjoys travelling and was particularly fond of South America.
Business Support Team
Kyle McHolland-Pilcher - Digital Marketing Apprentice & Back Office Support
Kyle has been working with ADO since 2018. Initially he assisted with holiday clubs and animal care. Kyle continued to develop his role whilst balancing a busy school and social life. On leaving school, he moved into our Digital Marketing Apprentice role and is rapidly learning new skills right across the business. These include payroll, some HR functions and some of the accounting functions including billing and credit control.
Kyle helps to plan, produce and edit videos, which are featured on our ADO TV YouTube Channel. He also assists with the social media updates, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As an apprentice he is quickly learning the various areas of the business both in the office and outdoors at River Valley. He helps with marketing to promote our services and is learning how the website is built and updated. He has also taken on some of the IT systems administration tasks like setting up logins and email. When he is not being a technical whizz, Kyle can be found taking images and video on the land at Poets Corner.
In his spare time, he really enjoys climbing, driving and improving his own classic Toyota Celica car. He unwinds by gaming with his mates.
Support and Part-time Staff
Within the business we have several staff whom work part-time hours. They provide an important support mechanism for our core teams.
Sarah Robertshaw - Staff Counsellor and Trainer - Sarah runs her own business but is contracted to ADO to provide regular training and counselling as required to staff.
Corey Nicoll - Land Support Assistant - Corey works part-time, but when he has finished his college studies in August, he will joining ADO full-time as a Landscape & Gardening Apprentice
Anandra Natalegawa - Land Support Assistant - Anandra joined on the Kickstart scheme and is currently learning a trade in horticulture and gardening
Chris Whiteman - Animal Care Educator Mentor - Chris joined on the Kickstart scheme and is supporting the education team, specialising in Animal Care
Ben O'Neill - Therapy Support Assistant - Ben joined on the Kickstart scheme and is supporting the education and therapy teams with a view to further qualifications.
Katie Huxstep - Animal Care Support Assistant - Katie provides weekend cover for animal care
Lewis Stickings - Animal Care Support Assistant - Lewis provides weekend cover for animal care
Ella McHolland-Pilcher - Equine Care - Ella provides support to care and train the horse and ponies at ADO
The ADO Management Committee
ADO also has an experienced and supportive management committee. Their biography's and information can be found HERE>
t: 020 8850 6778Last Updated 1st February 2021