Chip Ponsford | Lead Therapist and Co-Facilitator

Chip is a person-centred counsellor (MBACP Accred) and supervisor with particular interest in and experience of working therapeutically with men outdoors. He facilitated a group for men convicted of serious offences at Katherine Price Hughes House in 2012 and has worked with male torture survivors at The Refugee Therapy Centre, London, and with people with psychological distress and diagnoses in a number of settings including at Islington MIND, Highbury Counselling Centre and in private practice in London and Northumberland.  Chip undertook a day of CPD in outdoor therapy with Rab Erskine in 2015, as well as training with The Wilderness Foundation, and in facilitating learning with Forest School. Having relocated to Northumberland in 2015, Chip ran a pilot project in partnership with NDAS (Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services). The positive outcomes of this project led to the creation of Heart Wood.  chipponsfordcounselling.co.uk

Rab Erskine and Chip Ponsford

Rab Erskine | Co-Facilitator and Ecotherapy Consultant

Rab is a person-centred counsellor, a practitioner member of Cosca (Confederation of Scottish Counselling agencies). He has 32 years’ experience of working therapeutically outdoors. Alongside running a counselling service in primary care for the last twenty two years, from 1995 to 2005 he ran a small company offering short term residential ‘Wilderness Based” therapeutic experiences to individuals and group referred from social work, education and NHS secondary care referrers. From 2005 to 2016 he was commissioned to run the ‘Going Places’ project for the Borders NHS Adult Mental Health Psychiatric rehabilitation Service. raberskine.co.uk 

Chip and Rab are both qualified counsellors trained in the client-centred (person-centred) model of therapy. The mode of offering therapy (presently adopted by Heart Wood) is the one that Rab has been involved in developing and that has emerged from over twenty five years of his experience of being a counsellor offering therapy in a nature setting. The main strength of this model is the adaptation of the pre-therapy system originally formulated by Garry Prouty and presently continuing to be developed by the Pre-Therapy Network alongside Rab’s experience of applying this theory to working in a nature setting for both individuals and groups.

The Person-Centred Association | The Pre-Therapy International Network



Stephanie Ellis | Trustee Steph has worked in the funding sector for over a decade, previously working with One NorthEast on Rural Development Funding, European Regional Development Fund auditing, Grants for Business Investment and Grants for Research and Development. Since 2012, she has worked on dedicated programmes for The National Lottery Community Foundation, some of which have included the Advice and Advocacy sector and holistic methods of crisis intervention and resolution. Since 2017, Steph has held the post of Regional Funding Officer for Northumberland which involves a wider charitable sector workload, including building and maintaining strategic stakeholder relationships across Northumberland and more recently the North of Tyne Combined Authority.  Steph brings extensive network of local contacts and knowledge, from being a member of the NHS Social Prescribing network in the North East since its inception, to being a member of the Help Through Crisis Advisory Board, members of which include Trussell Trust, Child Poverty Action Group, Crisis, Shelter, and The Centre for Mental Health. 

Sue James | Chair of Trustees Sue is a person-centred counsellor who, for over 25 years, has worked in a variety of contexts including universities, voluntary organisations, NHS, and working independently. Roles have included Head of Counselling at University of Lincoln, Therapy Service Manager at CancerCare, Development Manager for The Survivors Trust and Clinical Lead at Trust House Lancashire (a sexual abuse support centre). In addition, Sue offers lecturing, training and supervision. Sue has always been interested in work that encourages and enables men to find expression, reflection and connection so support mental health and well-being.

Katy Jewitt | Treasurer  With over 16 years experience in the accountancy sector Katy works for a local Hexham firm of accountants preparing accounts for partnerships sole traders and limited companies. She is a member of the association of accountancy technicians.

Judi Perry | Trustee Judi is a person-centred and experiential counsellor (UKCP accredited) with experience working within the NHS, voluntary organisations and private practice. She has also previously been Co-Manager of a charity counselling organisation and is a member of the Pre-Therapy International Network. Judi is passionate about the person-centred approach, Pre-Therapy and challenging the stigma around mental health.

Nancy Rios | Trustee  Nancy has over 15 years experience working as a project manager first at Newcastle City Council then at Newcastle University, delivering projects in a range of fields such as regeneration, science, equality and community cohesion. Nancy is also a trained counsellor and currently works in education supporting children and young people with special education needs and social, emotional and behavioural problems. Nancy has a keen interest in social inclusion and has volunteered for organisations such as the Princes Trust and the Girls Network. She has a lifelong love of the outdoors. 


Emma Ponsford | Project Manager Emma is an experienced producer, manager and fundraiser.  She has worked at Sadler’s Wells Theatre since 2002, first in the programming department before becoming General Manager for Breakin' Convention, managing the a team of five and working alongside Jonzi D delivering an annual hip hop festival in London, national touring and overseeing all professional development activity. In 2015 Emma relocated to Northumberland for a better quality of life, and continues to work for Breakin' Convention. She was the Chair of Trustees for Music and Movement for three years. 

Katherine Calder | pro bono legal consultant is a senior legal public and procurement law consultant with city law firm, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP amongst others. Katherine is ranked in Chambers & Partners and Who’s Who Legal as one of the UKs leading procurement and public contract lawyers. Katherine has 18 years’ experience of advising public bodies on their commercial and grant funding contracts - and also companies applying for such funding contracts such as charities, school governing bodies and other not-for-profit vehicles.