Vav Simon
(Mhairi Simon)

DC AMC FRCC
Clinical Director

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Written by

Vicki Green-Steel

Southern Daily Echo

20/12/05

In The Press

Healing Hands



Over the years Vav has travelled the world treating animals and has had a number of celebrity clients. "Most recently I treated the bloodhounds who were on Midsommer Murders," she says. "I have also treated one of the black horses used in the Lloyds Bank commercials. My patients have also included several dogs who have been in adverts, such as last year's Crafts obedience champion. Once I was asked by a man who lives on the Island to treat a friend's dogs - he's a ventriloquist and uses the dogs in his act.

"I was expecting to put my hands on the dogs and for them to go 'ouch that hurts'. I thought it was a wind-up. I was suspicious but it was genuine. This man did stand-up comedy. Late one night he came out of the theatre and something was thrown towards him from a moving lorry and he put his hands out and caught it. It was a little dog. He took her home and she whelped the next day and provided him with six home and she whelped the next day and provided him with six puppies. He kept them all and incorporated them into his act. These dogs sat on chairs and he did the voices. As they looked at things, he would make up what they were saying. One was really badly injured so I ended up treating him."

Vav works very closely with vets, as legally she is required to get a vet's permission to treat an animal. "The ailments I treat depend on the animal. Basically what the Centre will be providing is fun, fitness and rehabilitation," she says. "The swimming pool is for dogs to have fun but because of the design of the pool we can use it for fitness training."

The Centre has a lot to cater for. Horses are competition animals - if they have a joint or muscle injury the vet may recommend turning them out for six months, which means the animal is out of work for all that time and its fitness deteriorates. "We are offering to take that animal in, keep it here and give it intense therapy to get the muscle groups working again. That means it will only miss a season's competitions, rather than a whole year's."

"I also treat cats. Cats are very discerning little people and because they have such flexible skeletons they rarely go wrong but I do see a lot, either because someone has kicked them or because they have been hit by a car or attacked by a dog. I dealt with one which slept on top of a lorry. When the lorry moved off it fell off."

"Because they are such private little people they very rarely show their problems until they have a big problem and then it is quite difficult to fix. Usually I give them intense chiropractic and massage. They accept it extremely well. I do get attacked on occasion. Sometimes they need acupuncture as well."

"Obviously cats don't go in the spa but they do respond extremely well to the massage work. It depends on the cat's personality. Some love it and can't get enough of it and some let you do what you need to do. As soon as you have done as much as they know you need to give then they will say that's enough. Once I was out in the yard treating a horse and I saw an old feral cat watching me. Everyone said you couldn't touch it as it was so nasty. Afterwards I was writing up my notes and the cat jumped up on my lap and presented me with the bit that hurt. I gave him the healing he needed and he left. Cats are very astute."

"People ask what animal is the most difficult to treat and they expect it be a big angry rottweiler. But more often than not, it's a cat."



THERE are not many people who can say they were a natural healer at the tender age of seven. It was a gift Vav Simon had and one that her granny encouraged, despite her mother's scepticism. Vav can remember helping the animals on her uncle's farm as a little girl. While the other children would be asked to find the chicken's eggs or clean the horses' tack, she would be asked to heal animals. "She's got the way with her," her uncle would say.

Ever since, she has had horses, dogs and cats of her own. Usually, they would make their own way to her - needing care and healing, and end up staying. "People brought me injured birds and the like," she recalls. Brought up in Scotland, her early career moved in some interesting directions - potter, bank clerk, dancer - before she decided to build upon her natural gifts as a healer.

She trained in massage and physiotherapy, and then went on to study for a degree at the McTimoney College of Chiropractic in Oxford, followed by a postgraduate course in chiropractic for animals. A chiropractor makes gentle adjustments to the skeleton to realign it. It's a hands-on therapy but very gentle.

Vav moved to the Isle of Wight with her husband Dave nine years ago, with a view to slowing down. But things did not work out that way. Instead, demand for her services increased, so she decided to open a holistic therapy centre for animals - possibly the only one in the world - offering chiropractic treatments, massage, homeopathy and many other therapies. "I wanted to spend more time treating animals and less time travelling," she says. "Now I can supply equipment I can’t transport in my car."

The Natural Therapy Centre Animals opened at Aldermoor Farm Ryde, in September, at a run-down farm the couple have converted. As one of just 35 chiropractors qualified to treat animals in the country (only 22 of whom are actually in practice), she has travelled all over world. She still gets referrals from mainland and abroad, but since coming to live on the island, she carries out much of her work locally, treating both people and animals.

"Animals respond to holistic therapies better than people," she says. "They have no preconceived ideas of what is going to happen, nor do they have any of the psychological interests in being ill that many people have. I wanted to be in one place so people come to me. I can treat more animals and not waste time travelling."

"I also wanted to be able to offer more therapies for animals and I wanted a base so I could get equipment to treat animals." The equipment includes three new types of water treatment for dogs, located in a very sparkly new barn, with a fetching turquoise and white paint scheme. The swimming pool, with a ramp of wooden decking, is 10ft by 12ft, heated to dog body temperature and has spa jets to provide resistance for therapy treatments. "As well as chiropractic treatments, we offer massage, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture and many other therapies."