Chief Executive Officer
Jill manages the operation of Festina Lente to the highest standard. She works with staff across the organisation to ensure we collectively can provided the best quality of service to the hundreds of people who avail of our range of activities, services and events. Jill finds it hard to pick only one highlight of her role, but overall she loves supporting people to achieve their personal best, whether in an equine, horticultural, community connection and learning and/or employment context. She loves seeing people growing and developing in the areas of their liking and being able to make informed life choices. Jill holds a PhD, a MSc in Economic and Social Studies, a National Diploma in Business Studies and a Diploma in Psychoeducational Remedial Riding. In her down time she is a keen cook, cinemagoer and walker, and regularly practices Sean-nós dancing.
Board of Directors
John has been associated with Festina Lente since its inception in 1988. As Chairman of the Board, he works closely with the CEO and the rest of the Board to provide governance oversight and support to the operation of Festina Lente's range of activities. His background has included directing financial services companies, and he has significant experience in taxation and auditing. Outside of his work with Festina Lente, John has an interest in history and current affairs, and has also served on the Board of the Glasnevin Cemetery Trust including as Chairman. He enjoys golf, rugby and equestrian activities, and lives in Kilpedder, County Wicklow.
Board of Directors
Caroline is a solicitor and partner in a legal firm, and brings her knowledge of legal issues and management to our Board of Directors. She has also served on the board of other charities, so has an excellent knowledge of the day-to-day challenges that can arise in a charitable organisation. Her son has attended lessons at Festina Lente so she has a great understanding of the organisation's operations. Caroline enjoys learning more about the services and opportunities offered at Festina Lente as part of her role on the Board, and aims to be of service wherever possible. She is inspired by the work done by the team across the organisation. Caroline enjoys golf, spending time with family, and is a proud Leinster Rugby supporter.
Board of Directors
Greg is a marketing and communications specialist, and was Marketing Director for Guinness Peat Aviation. He later joined McConnells advertising , then Ireland's largest communications group, where he became Deputy Managing Director. He kept horses for many years so understands how important they can be for learning and therapeutic opportunities. His favourite part of being a part of the Board is getting to meet with staff and students taking part on the programmes, and seeing them develop and grow in the organisation.
Board of Directors
Patricia has had a very varied career and brings a wide range of skills and experiences to Festina Lente's board. Trained as a secondary school teacher and as a TEFL teacher for business professionals, she also has a background as a special needs assistant, giving her an excellent understanding of the range of work Festina Lente undertakes. Patricia is a senior coach for the RDAI, and was the Eastern Area Representative from 2014 to 2020. She enjoys spending time with her family of 5 daughters and 4 grandchildren, gardening, art and music.
Board of Directors
Liz is the founder and director of Corporate Community, a community development organisation which specialises in managing change and complexity. She has worked with a number of different organisations, working out the big juicy questions of change within teams, developing leadership practices and collaborating more effecitvely. Liz has a PhD and enjys bringing an academic slant to her practical organisational development work. As a Board Member, she ensures that Festina Lente sustains its warm welcome for people looking for educational needs to be met via the unique blend of horses, people and gardens. It takes lots of different skills and different perspectives and experience to ensure that this happens and there is always something new to be discovered at Board every meeting. Liz loves travelling, especially when re-connecting with family and friends around the world. She is a passable cook, a regular culture vulture and is currently getting to grips with being a novice gardener in East Galway.
Riding School Manager
Clodagh has worked at Festina Lente since 1996, and has a wealth of knowledge about its history, horses and clients. She manages the timetables and operations of the riding school, working with the coaches to provide amazing learning experiences for riders of all ages and abilities. She assists with the schooling of horses. Clodagh also manages the vaulting programme, with a team of 20 vaulters who are coached twice a week. She has a BHSII qualification, is qualified as a psycho-educational vaulting coach and is a BEV and EVI Vaulting Coach. Outside of Festina Lente, Clodagh enjoys spending time with her family, including her dog and two cats, and she takes great care of her garden.
Eilis manages the daily operation of our equestrian yard, overseeing all the varied activities that the riding school manages from ordering supplies to working with the vaulting teams! She ensures each of our horses and ponies has their specific needs met and maintains the rosters for staff, helpers and volunteers. She has a BHSAI qualification and a Level 6 qualification in Equitation. Eilis particularly enjoys the variety involved in her role, working with each of the equines as well as staff, volunteers and clients. She is a lover of dogs, with her own dog Nala a favourite visitor to Festina Lente, and tries to make it to the Crufts Dog Show each year.
Jim works with riders from beginner level through to advanced, and takes term lessons, private lessons and therapeutic lessons for riders of all ages. He encourages all of his students to be brave and extend their comfort zones, and aims for all his clients to feel confident to have a go and try new things. Jim approaches coaching with three key words: empathy, acceptance and awareness, and aims to build confidence and skills. He also provides peer coaching to the rest of the coaching team, is part of the teaching team for the Equestrian Training Programme, and assess the students taking part in our Therapeutic Coaching Course programme. He loves seeing his students' delight when they've achieved their goals and expanded their horizons, and he loves working such dedicated and talented riders. Jim has a BHS Stage 4 qualification, a Young Horse Breeding and Training Certificate, and is a Tag Teach International Level 1 Coach. Outside of work, Jim is a keen sportsman, playing rugby and hurling, and also enjoys music and motorcycles. He also loves getting out on the Shannon River with his family.
Senior Therapeutic Riding Coach
Natalie works with our clients with additional needs as our Senior Therapeutic Riding Coach, as well as teaching mainstream lessons. She runs up to 8 lessons a day with children of all ages and needs, working closely with their families to improve physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural skills. She facilitates sections of the Therapeutic Coaching training programme offered at Festina Lente, and works with our team of volunteers to develop their skills and understanding in therapeutic riding and its benefits. Natalie works closely with our team of horses and ponies to ensure their schooling is well balanced and consistent. At home, Natalie enjoys keeping fit by going to the gym and practicing yoga, as well as hiking. She is also a keen baker!
Therapeutic Riding Coach
Gabrielle is one of our team of experienced coaches, working in both therapeutic and mainstream lessons. Her role involves planning and organizing riding lesson plans for individuals with particular therapeutic needs and groups from beginners through to advanced riders. She also works on the yard, ensuring our hard working horses and ponies are fed, groomed and ready to go before their lessons. She holds an Irish Certificate of Equestrian Studies and is currently studying towards her Certificate in Therapeutic Riding Coaching. Outside of work Gabrielle loves swimming in the sea, practicing yoga and walking her two dogs.
Joanna (Jo) Brooks
Therapeutic Riding Coach
Jo’s role sees her providing sessions of therapeutic riding for children and adults with a variety of additional needs. Her extensive qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology, TEFL teacher and EAL and Therapeutic Coaching Facilitator certificates, all of which she draws from to create engaging and meaningful sessions. She also manages the workload of our hard-working equines, ensuring they all have plentiful time for rest in between their sessions. Jo’s favourite parts of her role are getting to team up with a horse and spend one-on-one time with them and some really special kids, and knowing she’s making a big difference in their week. Outside of Festina Lente she loves spending time with her own kids, especially watching movies together, and loves anything to do with Spain – language, food, culture!
Tinisha works with our mainstream riding school clients, taking both group riding lessons and private lessons. She teaches riders of all ages, and teaches skills from flatwork to games, jumping and more. She also takes stable management classes, where she teaches students all they need to know about working with horses on the ground. She works in the yard and schools the horses and ponies, which is one of her favourite parts of her role! Tinisha has BHS qualifications at levels 1, 2 and 3, as well as a road riding safety certificate. Outside of Festina Lente, she is a keen hiker and practices yoga regularly, while also loving horse riding!
Therapeutic Riding Coach
Sarah uses her background in Applied Social Studies and her Therapeutic Riding Coach certification to plan and deliver therapeutic riding lessons to clients with additional needs. She works closely with the client and their supporters to create fun and engaging lessons which help each client to reach their individual goals. She also works across the yard, schooling horses, mucking out and giving stable management lessons. Sarah’s favourite part of her role is getting the opportunity to work with so many amazing children and seeing first-hand the joy being with the horses gives them, and also getting the chance to work outside. She’s also a trained dog groomer and animal healthcare assistant, and perhaps unsurprisingly outside of work she loves horse riding, as well as cooking, reading and yoga.
Supported Helper Programme Facilitator
Elisa runs our Supported Helper Programme, working together with children and adults with special needs to carry out equine tasks and activities to improve self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as promoting independence and responsibility. She develops individual programmes to suit each person taking part, and works with clients in tasks such as leading ponies, grooming, mucking out stables and making up feeds. She also manages the Equine Facilitated Education Programme, where young people from local schools work with her and the horses and ponies to develop a range of social and emotional learning competencies. Elisa is a trained Rehabilitation Nurse with a specialisation in working with people with disabilities, as well as being a Social Care worker with twenty years of experience with horses. In her own time Elisa plays bass guitar for her band, enjoys reading, and unsurprisingly loves horse riding!
Equine Assisted Learning and Outreach Programme Facilitator
Suzanne runs sessions with young adults, children and corporate clients in Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) with the goal of facilitating new opportunities for growth and learning. If not ‘in the moment’ with clients and horses in one of our arenas, she is focused on managing the busy schedules of our two miniature Shetland ponies, providing an Outreach Service to schools, mental health hospitals and nursing homes. Suzanne holds a BA Hons Degree in History & Philosophy, a Diploma in Natural Horsemanship and a Fetac Level 6 in EAL Facilitation. She provides examination support to our QQI Level 6 EAL Facilitator Training Programme and helps deliver the Festina Lente EAL Facilitator Training programme overseas. When not in Festina Lente, Suzanne loves being in nature. Whether hiking in the Irish countryside with her dogs or tracking wildlife across Canada’s BC Coast, she is always happiest with animals by her side!
Equestrian Training Programme Supervisor and Therapeutic Riding Coach
Paula has a multifaced role at Festina Lente, and has a busy schedule across our equestrian activities. In the morning she supervises the practical work completed by the Equestrian Training Programme students, from mucking out to grooming and tacking up. In the afternoons she coaches in the riding school, sharing her extensive equestrian knowledge to students of all ages. Paula has an HSI Level 1 qualification and outside of work enjoys adding to her collection of Charlie Bears.
Joey is our encyclopaedia of Festina Lente, and is an absolute treasure trove of skills and information to keep our facility running. He works all over the site fixing and maintaining areas and ensuring our horses and ponies, clients and staff are safe and have a well-functioning place to work or visit. He has a background in farrier work, as well as training in saddlery, and also assists with our vaulting teams. Joey’s favourite part of working at Festina Lente is seeing how our clients grow as they learn at Festina Lente. He is a keen cyclist and practices leatherworking in his time off.
JP is a familiar face around Festina Lente! After starting his equestrian career in a North Dublin riding school, where he studied for his BHS level 1, JP came to Festina Lente and completed the Equestrian Training Programme. He volunteered in the yard and was then employed as a yard assistant. JP has a varied role in the yard, including leading for both therapeutic and mainstream lessons, as well as grooming and tacking up the horses and bringing them to and from the fields. He assists with the general yard duties of mucking out and sweeping too. He particularly enjoys leading for lessons and feels like Festina Lente is his second family. In his own time JP leads a very active life, enjoying football, GAA, swimming and running.
Barry works across a range of the equestrian yard's activities, and you'll find him mucking out stables, undertaking general maintenance around the site, leading horses for therapeutic lessons and whatever else needs to be done each day! He enjoys all aspects of his work and the variety of tasks he does each day. Barry completed the Equestrian Training Programme here at Festina Lente, and also has a BHS qualification in riding and road safety. Outside of work Barry loves sports and keeping fit, and particularly enjoys rugby, football and hurling.
Yard Assistant/Therapeutic Leader
Amy started at Festina Lente in 2012 when she began the Transition Training Programme, and followed that by completing the Equestrian Training Programme. In September 2018 she was offered her dream role where she gets to work with the horses and their riders all week! She particularly enjoys leading the horses and ponies for children taking lessons, as well as using the Equissage on the horses and ponies. She is a keen horse rider and particularly loves Henry (especially cantering and jumping!). She is also an accomplished bodhran player and enjoys walking her dog Lulu.
Glenn works on our yard, taking care of our horses and ponies. He assists with tasks as varied as grooming and mucking out right through to leading our horses and ponies in their lessons. Glenn completed the Transition Training Programme at Festina Lente before starting in the yard. He loves his role as he’s learning new things every day. At home, Glenn loves the outdoors and regularly heads out for a walk or a cycle.
Kevin works across a range of the equestrian yard's activities, and you'll find him mucking out stables, undertaking general maintenance around the site, leading horses for therapeutic lessons and whatever else needs to be done each day! He particularly enjoys leading for therapeutic lessons, learning the equitation science techniques and putting these into practice. Kevin completed the Equestrian Training Programme here at Festina Lente, and also has a BHS qualification in riding and road safety. Outside of work Kevin enjoys ballroom dancing and gardening (although he is less keen on weeding!)
Training and Day Services Manager
Sabrina manages our training and day services programmes for people with additional needs – the Equestrian Training Programme (preparing students for careers in equestrian roles), the Transition Training Programme (preparing school leavers for transitioning into further training, employment or other services) and the Saol Anois Day service (providing development and leisure opportunities with individualised support). Sabrina has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science, Certificate in Supported Employment, Certificate in Applied Management, and is a Designated Safeguarding Officer. Sabrina really enjoys her role as she’s able to work across the three diverse programmes, and seeing the amazing achievements of the men and women who attend Festina Lente is the best part of her job. Outside of work Sabrina loves walking her gorgeous Tibetan terrier, Bella (who is a popular visitor to Festina Lente!)
Team Leader and Day Service Facilitator
Roxane’s role at Festina Lente is always evolving to meet the needs of our diverse clients! She puts together timetables for both the staff and the students to ensure each client is meeting their goals, and she reviews these regularly to keep up with changing requirements. Along with the other staff in the Saol Anois Day Service team, she arranges all manner of trips and activities, teaches a range of classes, advocates and supports the clients and links in with associated services, and maintains relationships with the families of clients. Her favourite thing about her role is that every day brings something new and no two days are the same! She feels very lucky to work with such a positive and outgoing group of men and woman who are always keen to try new things. Roxane is a passionate Scout leader and trainer who has been involved with the Bray Scout group for over 15 years. She’s also been a member of Civil Defence and recently joined the Irish Coast Guard as a volunteer.
Transition Training Programme Facilitator
Saragh is currently providing maternity leave cover for Vicki Reid. She is working with the Transition Training team to deliver, evaluate and assesses the Programme for our students. She is key worker for five learners, and provides support for their learning and wellbeing in partnership with their supportive parents. Saragh loves being able to work with the amazing students and staff in the beautiful environs of Festina Lente. Saragh holds a PG Dip in Learning, Teaching and Assessment; and a Masters degree in Special Education, as well as being a registered nurse. Outside of Festina Lente she is busy with her grown up brood of four and enjoys swimming, reading and quilting. She has recently discovered a newfound interest in gardening, inspired by the beauty of the Festina Lente gardens.
Transition Training Programme Facilitator
Enda provides the learners on the Transition Training Programme with a range of vocational and leisure experiences, helping them to prepare for their next steps in education or employment through completing a QQI Level Three award. Enda particularly enjoys helping the learners to progress during their time on the programme, and appreciates the opportunity to see them flourish both personally and academically. He also enjoys how no two days are the same! Enda has qualifications in Applied Social Studies and Higher Adult Education, as well as training in Suicide Prevention. Outside of his work day he enjoys running, listening to music, seeing friends and family and cooking.
Community Connector, Saol Anois
Deirdre’s focus as Community Connector is to develop better literacy skills amongst the men and women on the service, through classroom based learning and other activities. She has a strong interest in sustainability and she is bringing this focus to her work, with the students growing food in the gardens to cook and eat, to encourage a healthy lifestyle. She aims to foster confidence through working with people’s strengths and creating meaningful engagement in the community. Deirdre has extensive experience in working with people who experience inequality in all forms, using everyday tasks such as gardening to connect and create learning experiences. She holds a BSc in Education and Training from DCU, and previously worked as a fitness instructor and holistic massage therapist. Outside of work she loves growing her own food and creating amazing meals, and loves brightly coloured fabric and art. You’ll find her happiest in her garden with a brightly coloured dress and wellies!
Community Connector and Supported Employment Facilitator, Saol Anois
Jessica’s priorities as Community Connector at Festina Lente are to develop exciting learning experiences for our students, with a strong focus on helping them to develop great life skills. She’s a strong advocate for healthy lifestyles, and works with the students to develop their yoga practice, encourages them to eat healthily and care for their mental health through meditation. Jessica’s passion growing up was horses, leading her to study Equestrian Studies in Claiste Stiofain Naofa. She’s worked in riding yards, both show jumping and riding schools. In more recent years Jessica achieved a BA (Hons.) in Social Science and she combines her skills in equestrian management and social care to give our students a rich and rewarding learning experience.
Supported Employment Coordinator
Maureen supports the men and women in our Saol Anois and Transition Training Programmes to find suitable employment or work placements within the community. Having been an instructor on the Transition Training Programme prior to taking up this current position, she is thrilled to be able to support our amazing men and women on a one-to-one basis to find rewarding work opportunities in a huge variety of fields. She loves meeting employers who are enthusiastic about inclusion and diversity in the workforce, and finds it incredibly satisfying to see our clients fulfilled and supported in meaningful work. Maureen holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology and Sociology and a certificate in Supported Employment. Outside of Festina Lente she loves watching and playing tennis, and has recently taken up bridge – she’s finding the mental challenge rewarding!
Community Connector and Supported Employment Facilitator, Saol Anois
Gianluca works with the rest of the Saol Anois team to promote and facilitate the social inclusion of the people part of the Saol Anois programme. He works closely with the adults on the day service to understand their plans for the future and particular support needs in order to develop their individualised goals to work towards particular achievements. Gianluca has a Masters degree in Clinical, Developmental and Neuro Psychology, and he is also currently working on a Youth Exchange Project funded by the Erasmus+ programme. This project will allow some of our Saol Anois people to live an experience living abroad by working with people from a different country. At home Gianluca loves watching and playing football, and has volunteered as a football coach for the Cambridge FC under 13 team.
Community Connector and Behaviour Specialist, Saol Anois
Grace works with the clients on our services who have various support needs, providing advocacy and supporting their social inclusion. She aims to help them develop meaningful social roles within their community. As the Behaviour Specialist for the services, she provides functional behavioural assessments for clients and creates goal-focused behavioural support plans, for those who need additional supports. Grace also provides training and guidance for our staff working in the Services team, working to best address any behavioural issues that arise with the individuals we work with. Grace really enjoys working with such a fantastic group of men and women and loves being able to support them to access education and employment opportunities. Grace is a talented actor, performing in amateur theatre. She’s currently doing a night course through the Gaiety School of Acting. She’s also an enthusiastic runner.
Equestrian Training Programme Facilitator
Leanne is one of our two ETP Facilitators, and works with the students on the course to develop their skills in horsemanship and stable management. She works with the students who are doing level 4 and level 5 qualifications, and supervises both their academic work and their practical work on the yard. Leanne loves working with the students and seeing their confidence growing as they work through the course. She particularly enjoys seeing their skills developing, both with horses as well as their social and life skills. Leanne also appreciates that she can bring her adorable dog Popcorn to work, and her daughter is also a regular help on the yard! At home, Leanne loves spending time with family and friends, singing (mostly in the shower), dancing in the kitchen and trying new things.
Orlagh manages the Accounts team, and oversees the finances for Festina Lente, ensuring all is carefully managed from payroll through to expenditure. She works closely with all departments to maintain the accounts, and also liaises with students, clients and suppliers to ensure records and payments are up to date. She holds a CPA qualification and also has degrees in Marketing and History. Orlagh particularly enjoys working with the range of people at Festina Lente, and getting to meet interesting people every day. She also appreciates being able to bring her dogs to work! At home, Orlagh enjoys reading, spending time with her small hounds, and maintaining her acre of garden.
Our Administrator Elspeth manages the office, updates the website and blog, and ensures the IT systems are in working order. She also provides administration support for the QQI level 6 courses, and maintains supplies across the organisation, as well as providing front of house duties. She particularly enjoys getting to work with people from all over the organisation – it keeps the days really interesting! Elspeth has a background in arts management and museum work, and has a Masters degree in Museum Studies. Outside of Festina Lente, Elspeth is a keen cook, loves ride outs in the countryside and is an enthusiastic corner back for the Shankill GAA’s Ladies Gaelic Football Team.
Andrea is responsible for all our social media platforms, and ensures there is a constant flow of updates, photos, news and video content to keep our audience happy. She also manages external marketing for Festina Lente, as well as event management throughout the year. Andrea arranges our many interns and work experience placements for Transition Year students, and is a trained Therapeutic Riding Coach through Festina Lente and is able to help out in this area as required. She is the tutor for the business and marketing modules in our QQI Level 6 programmes. Her favourite part of working at Festina Lente is working with such a variety of people daily – as a people person this makes her very happy! Andrea is a trained sound engineer and an experienced rider. She has two daughters who keep her busy outside of work, and to add to her varied skillset she’s recently trained as a qualified mediator.
Anjie makes sure our finances are up to date and well managed, and in particular takes payments and enquiries for our riding lessons and pony camps. She enjoys the variety of people she gets to meet through her job, both in person and on the phone. Outside of work Anjie loves being out for long walks with her Labradoodle, getting stuck into a good novel and not cooking – luckily her teenagers are starting to get creative in the kitchen!
Patrick has a busy schedule here at Festina Lente. He leads our team of gardeners as they maintain the Victorian walled garden and allotments, as well as grows plants for sale in our shop. He also runs garden tours for schools and community groups and maintains stock levels in our Garden Shop. Patrick also runs our series of garden workshops, sharing his extensive skills and knowledge of fruit and vegetable growing, garden planning and maintenance with the community, and provides gardening assistance to our day service users. His favourite part of the role is getting to work with so many different people, from within his team to the whole organisation and the public. In his own time Patrick enjoys keeping fit, loves music (and is searching for the perfect choir to join!) and travels as much as he can.
Bob works tirelessly alongside the rest of the Gardens team to keep our wonderful Victorian Walled Gardens in spectacular condition. He has a BSc in horticulture, and no two days are the same for him. One day he could be delivering manure all over Dublin, while the next he might be sowing seeds in the polytunnels in the spring, or pruning roses in the winter months, Bob also manages the therapeutic trails which run along the sides of the ornamental gardens, as well as the wildflower meadow and woodland trail. All of these require continuous weeding and maintenance, keeping Bob’s days full! At home Bob maintains his own garden, and enjoys walking his dog.
Workshop Facilitator and Retail Assistant
Selina is a familiar face to many local kids, as she runs our super popular summer camps in the Gardens and provides amazing activities during our birthday parties! She has an amazing set of crafty skills that she uses to create fun and education activities for children of all ages. She also manages our Garden Shop, ensuring our visitors and staff have an enjoyable range of snacks and gardening supplies. Selina particularly enjoys getting to meet so many interesting people in her role, from the staff, allotment holders and students right through to the public – let’s face it, everyone needs chocolate! Selina has an MSc in Environmental Science, RH Advanced Certificate in Horticulture and a qualification in Child Psychology. Outside of work she enjoys training her young collie Murphy, and taking part in her flower arranging club.
Justin works in our Gardens, keeping them looking beautiful and healthy year round. He also assists with deliveries and whatever other tasks need doing – and there’s always something! He loves getting to work outdoors, and the novelty of driving the mini-tractor hasn’t yet worn off. He has a MA in European Studies, which he completed prior to his realisation he much prefers working outside. He is a keen mountain biker and kayaker, and loves being in nature.
Darren has been working in Festina Lente for well over 15 years, and is an integral part of the Gardens team. Amongst his other duties he is in charge of making sure that the recycling and waste management in the gardens is always taken care of. Always willing to help out with whatever task is to hand, Darren is very friendly and a pleasure to work with. He is an animal lover and looks after his pet birds in his free time.