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Could you be one of our mental health ambassadors?

One of the main aims of LionHeart's original mental health programme, the John O'Halloran Initiative, was to help raise awareness and start conversations about mental health in the workplace and at property sector events. 

As part of this, LionHeart set out to recruit some 'ambassadors' to help us drive forward the mental health awareness message.
Our mental health ambassadors are all RICS professionals who have experience of mental ill health either personally or through a close relative or friend. They have all agreed to bravely share their experiences in the hope it will break down the stigma often attached to mental health issues, and maybe encourage others to speak out or seek support if they need it.

From that original small group, our ambassador programme grew and grew as more professionals responded to the message and wanted to get involved. They have been instrumental in starting so many conversations about mental health and demonstrating to their peers that it's ok to ask for help.

Scroll down to view a video of some of our ambassadors sharing their stories, or click on their photos to find out more about each one.

If you would like to be a LionHeart ambassador or would like to find out more about the role, please email

kelly allen

Kelly Allen


Kelly Allen started as a graduate surveyor at Colliers International in 2016 and then became a building surveyor at Faithorn Farrell Timms in 2017.
Kelly has a history of mental health struggles including diagnosed PTSD, anxiety and depression. During her first year post-graduation, she struggled with 'imposter syndrome', depression and increased anxiety.

She says: "At the time, I didn't want my illness to jeopardise any potential professional progression and therefore hid my struggles and gained private help.

"I learned about LionHeart and their mission recently and strongly believe I would have benefitted from their services had I been aware at the time. I therefore feel passionately about raising awareness for other professionals who may be suffering in silence with workplace stress or mental health illness."


Alcohol, anxiety, and how secrets keep you sick

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Derek Carter


Derek has extensive UK, international and pan-European real estate experience working within property companies and private equity as well as the banking world.  

He experienced a series of life events where, he says, one thing led to another. After contacting LionHeart for initial advice, he found support for his wellbeing in several areas. 

He says: "It is a great benefit to know that somebody is there but that they are also part of an experienced team that can offer help, assistance and guidance for the situations we can find ourselves in. Knowing how difficult it can be to seek support is one reason why I wish to make others aware of the positive help they can find at any time through LionHeart."


I had no idea stress could cause a real, physical pain

Natasha Collins

Natasha Collins


Natasha started as a graduate surveyor in 2010 and worked in practice for 6 years. During that time she gained her MSc in Surveying and became chartered in 2015, founding her asset management company NC Real Estate in 2016. She is also a lecturer with the University College of Estate Management.

After becoming ill the first time she took her APC, Natasha was supported by LionHeart and later went on to help devise and deliver our very first Supercharge Your Wellbeing workshop - the first of many wellbeing subjects we now offer training in.

Natasha says: "I feel strongly that mental health should be a normal discussion point. 

"As someone who has her ups and downs with mental health I feel passionately about sharing my experiences and helping others to feel confident in their mental health and wellbeing too."


Overwhelm - and overcoming it


James Crawford


James Crawford started his career in South Africa in 1985 before moving to the City in London to work for the likes of Weatherall Green & Smith, Jones Lang Wootton and then several years at Savills, where he specialised in multi-million pound commercial acquisitions and sales.

He developed severe depression, which he describes "the most desperate period I have ever experienced", and says: "After a relatively high-profile career in the City I went from being a highly paid investment agent to nothing in a matter of months. Simply existing was the goal."

He became an ambassador to "highlight the risk we all run in our frantic lives" and hopes sharing his story may encourage other professionals to seek help before they hit rock bottom. 

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Kiran Dhillon


Kiran Dhillon was proud to achieve RICS Fellowship after starting her surveying career in construction in 2007. She is currently working for Kier Group as the Head of Commercial working on Major Water, Energy and Telecoms projects.

As a young QS, she says she often felt anxious due to her lack of experience in the profession. At points in her career she has also experienced stress and overwhelm while trying to manage both work and home life challenges with a young family, finding Covid 19 a particularly difficult time.  

Over time, Kiran says she has learned to adapt and manage those feelings to avoid burnout. She says: "I want to be an ambassador for LionHeart to share my experiences and help remove taboos that exist not only in society but the industry itself by openly discussing mental health."

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Jordanne started with Savills in September 2016 in her first role in the property and construction industry as an apprentice studying with University College of Estate Management.

Since then she has continued to progress and now delivers building and project consultancy services to commercial and industrial clients throughout the UK.

She says: "LionHeart is an organisation that was there for me when I needed them most, and I wanted to help raise awareness about the fantastic range of services and support they offer.

"Although my generation has been encouraged to be more open and speak more freely about mental health issues, it is still a huge barrier that many struggle to overcome and I would like to help in any way I can."



 My experience of counselling

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Gemma Foster


Gemma began her career with Countrywide in an administrative role, studying alongside her job with the University College of Estate Management, before becoming an Associate of the RICS.

Having had personal experience of anxiety and depression, Gemma is keen to normalise conversation surrounding mental health and wellbeing.

She says: "I think it's important that it becomes normal to talk to your employer and colleagues when you're struggling - that's why I decided to become an ambassador for LionHeart to show people it's ok to not be ok sometimes."


 Vicious circle of body image and mental health

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Owen Gower


Owen has a range of facilities management experience, working in the university sector and for Vinci Facilities. He was a 2014 winner of the RICS Matrics Young Surveyor of the Year.

He became one of LionHeart's mental health ambassadors after speaking out about his own diagnosis of Bipolar disorder, saying: "In my view, we need to keep exposing people to the facts and truth about mental health to reduce stigma, and create an environment where people can share their mental health concerns without fear of retribution or negative impacts."




The one about the bipolar surveyor

What is bipolar?

rebecca graham

Rebecca Graham


Rebecca started her surveying career in 2015, moving to Savills in 2017 where she became a chartered building surveyor. 

She says: "These last few years have been testing, and I hope by sharing my experiences that I can help normalise discussions about mental health in the surveying profession.

"It is reassuring to find other people in the surveying profession who've had similar struggles. The LionHeart ambassadors recognise the importance of allocating time out of busy work schedules to discuss all things mental health and I'm delighted to be part of it."


Losing a sibling to suicide

Wayne Grainger-lloyd

Wayne Grainger-Lloyd


Wayne first became aware of LionHeart’s services as the assessment training manager and a mental health first aider for RICS. Having personal experience of mental ill health and living with OCD, he is committed to helping others living with mental health challenges by encouraging open discussion to reduce stigma in a professional setting.

The first RICS staff member to become a LionHeart ambassador, he says: “I became an ambassador to publicise all the great services and support for surveyors that are offered by this wonderful charity but above all else to help others.”


Living with OCD


Kirsty Harvey


Kirsty is founder/ director of KTD Surveying, a consultancy specialising in commercial landlord/tenant issues. With over 25 years experience in the property industry she previously worked as an estate manager for organisations including A S Watson, National Mutual and First Quench.

Kirsty has first-hand experience of how mental health issues can affect surveyors, and how the culture and environment of the workplace can both contribute to poor mental health - or prevent it.

After the inaugural RICS Diversity and Inclusion Conference she was inspired to speak out about her experiences of dealing with anxiety, stress and depression, and became a LionHeart mental health ambassador to help raise awareness among industry colleagues.

She says: "The more people talk, it becomes less of a stigma. I hope my story makes others realise they are not alone."


Kirsty's Story: Living with panic attacks 


Jen Hobart


Jen spent two and a half years as a graduate surveyor in Milton Keynes before joining Jones Lang LaSalle in 2015. After qualifying in 2017 she has worked for big property firms specialising in building surveys and contract administration, and mentoring APC candidates. Most recently she joined Hollis as an associate.

Jen has struggled with anxiety since she was a teenager, but desperately tried to ignore it and pretend it wasn't a problem.

She says: "I eventually decided to face it after I was referred following my first attempt at assessment. I came across a seminar called Supercharge Your Wellbeing by LionHeart, which I believe was the turning point that helped me to achieve my chartership that summer.

"I hope that sharing my experiences with anxiety will help others going through similar situations."


 "I was told I might not be cut out to be a surveyor"

Is it really OK not to be OK?

My Furlough and Redundancy Journey

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Eva Hollins


Eva Hollins is a chartered surveyor and a residential property manager, beginning her career in 2011 when she joined a team of valuers as a member of their support staff. Facing her own challenges as she progressed in her career led Eva to look for ways to manage stress and build resilience. Having completed training in mental health and resilience, she now hopes to bring this experience to support the industry as a LionHeart ambassador.

She says: "LionHeart has helped many of my colleagues with their struggles with workload, low self-esteem and along the APC process. Now I'm very proud to become an ambassador and part of this amazing support network myself."


Stuart Howison


After graduating from De Montfort University, Leicester, in 2001, Stuart started his career in Building Surveying with GVA Grimley (now GVA). Moving into project management, he has several years experience within fire and rescue services in Wales and England.     

He has first hand experience of dealing with anxiety and depression having suffered from both for several years. 

He says: "For many years I was afraid to speak openly about my mental health, given my chosen profession, work environment and industry. I was always afraid of being judged by my peers and colleagues.

"I feel by becoming an ambassador the stigma associated with mental health can be broken, and hope to encourage colleagues from within our profession to openly discuss mental health and reassure that, with support, it can be positively managed and not hinder career progression."  


Living with Anxiety and Depression

Lockdown and Mental Health

Subjit Jassy

Subjit Jassy


In his 25-year-plus career in real estate, Subjit has managed assets with a value in excess of £1.8bn, managed over £30m of construction projects and completed around £10m of leasing deals, with experience in the retail, leisure, residential and office sectors.

He has a personal interest in wellbeing, practising mindfulness, meditation and yoga and joined the ambassador programme as an extension to his own work in mentoring and coaching.

He is also working towards a counselling and life coach qualification in addition to his real estate career.

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Steve Lees


Steve gained his status as MRICS in 2001, initially practising in the West Midlands as a valuation surveyor, before becoming a Senior Surveying Quality Manager for e.surv.

He has supported RICS professionally on several working groups but is most proud of his time spent supporting LionHeart and its work in improving mental health within the profession.  

Working in the industry through the tough times of redundancy threats led to some issues with anxiety. At the age of 37 (and still attempting to regularly run and play football...), Steve was diagnosed with cancer of the throat in 2014.

Having benefitted from good support through his issues with anxiety and also through his cancer battle, he says he hopes to give something back by supporting others. 


"Cancer wasn't meant to happen to us"


Caroline Legg


After graduating from Sheffield Hallam University in 1999 Caroline started her career in social housing development and undertook her RICS APC. Upon qualification Caroline went into residential survey and valuation work with Countrywide, later moving into project management.  

Caroline has first-hand experience of depression and anxiety after giving birth to her son who had serious health problems. She strongly believes that starting conversations around mental health helps to break stigma, and in doing so, the property industry and its people are strengthened. 

She says: "I feel being an ambassador gives me opportunity to tell my story which I am hopeful will provide some reassurance and comfort to individuals and organisations that - with support - mental health can be openly discussed and managed with positive outcomes."


"When the reality of motherhood doesn't go to plan"

Claire Martin web

Claire Martin


Claire is a chartered surveyor with over 20 years’ experience in the property profession, working within various disciplines, latterly at e.surv Chartered Surveyors, where she has been an operational surveyor and Area Manager. But, being passionate about supporting new entrants into the profession and helping people achieve their potential, she is now a Technical Partner in e.surv’s Learning & Development Department.

Claire’s reasons for supporting LionHeart as a mental health ambassador stem from a personal tragedy which completely changed her life. But, despite being a surveyor at the time, she wasn’t aware of the support that LionHeart could have offered at a very difficult time personally, emotionally and financially.

She says: “I want to help raise more awareness of LionHeart throughout my networks in the hope that I can prevent other surveyors from suffering and struggling without knowing about the support that’s out there for them from LionHeart.”

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David Martin


David Martin is a property professional of over 20 years having worked at Imperial College London, St John Ambulance, and NHS Property Services. David suffered work-related stress and, in 2019, sadly experienced a medical episode which led to sight loss. He received support from LionHeart when he was feeling mentally low and trying to come to terms with his disability. Through the challenges of maintaining his career with a disability and his experiences of mental health issues, David is passionate about raising awareness of the dangers of work-related stress and burnout and supports others in the workplace as a qualified mental health first aider.

He says: "I became aware of the important work LionHeart provides through accessing support in relation to my own difficulties. I'm honoured to become a LionHeart mental health ambassador and look forward to supporting everyone who requires help, as well as breaking down the taboos associated with mental ill health and disability."


'Stress caused me permanent disability'

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Scott Pearshouse


Scott Pearshouse MRICS is an M&E senior quantity surveyor based in the West Midlands. Initially trained as an electrical engineer, after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a 40ft fall he defied all expectations to recover, learning to walk again and returning to work against all the odds. He later began a part-time quantity surveying degree while working, becoming chartered in 2019 at his first attempt.

He says: “There have been challenges and new phases to overcome. I’ve struggled with anger and change, but talking to a professional CBT counsellor about the ups and downs I’ve been through has helped massively. I count myself as one of the lucky ones and if my story can help just one person or inspire people in any way, that would mean the world to me. It’s one of the reasons I am now volunteering as an ambassador with LionHeart, championing health and mental health within our profession.”


Life after brain injury


Paddy Phillips


Paddy Phillips started out in the media industry in London in 2002, switching to a career in real estate in 2005, working for the likes of Farebrother and GVA, where he specialised in advising both tenants and landlords on the leasing, refurbishment and development of their assets. He followed this by working for two tech start-ups.

His first marriage suffered as a result of his heavy drinking. He struggled with sobriety and depression for a number of years before finally getting sober.

He says he became an ambassador to highlight the risks and dangers that poor mental health and alcohol abuse can cause in both personal and professional life and hopes that by sharing his story he may encourage others to seek help before they hit rock bottom as he did.


How alcohol almost cost me everything


David Sherborn-Hoare


David Sherborn-Hoare built up a practice with 4 offices and 30+ staff with a turnover of £1.5m after starting out from the spare bedroom of his home. He held a number of honorary positions with the RICS, played rugby, lectured at the Royal Agricultural College and described himself as "the life and soul of the party".

But a secret lack of confidence in his own abilities drove him to work intensely. His marriage ended acrimoniously and he says: "Eventually one Saturday morning while sitting at my kitchen table I found I could not get up - I had in a literal sense broken down."

After eventually receiving therapy, he later trained as a psychotherapist himself. He now has a private clinical practice and also advises businesses, saying that every single business will have people affected by mental health issues so if is vital to have informed policies and practices in place. 

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Emma Snipp --

Emma is a confidence and resilience coach who specialises in working with people in the real estate, construction and property law sectors.

Before becoming a coach, Emma worked in Asset Management for The Crown Estate, with a focus on out-of-town retail, leisure and industrial. Before that, she spent 12 years at Canada Life in the City of London, beginning her career on the reception desk before becoming involved with CL's sustainability initiatives and then Asset Management. 

It was not just her non-conventional path into surveying and through the APC that drove Emma to LionHeart but their support of her during a particularly dark time when her husband was suicidal. She realised the importance of their ambassadors and now hopes to return that support to others in the property industry.


Asking for help - as the helper

Emma Sueref

Emma Sueref --

Emma started out in construction with Shield Services in January 2017 following her MSc. She later moved to Vistry Partnerships as Assistant Land and New Business Manager. She achieved Associate RICS in March 2019 and is working towards achieving MRICS.

Emma says: "Having had a wide array of personal experiences with mental health, I feel it is important to talk about it and support each other. As a trained Mentor (STEM and Brightside) and a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) I hope to help encourage more people within our industry to engage in safe discussions surrounding mental health."

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Elise  Thompson


Elise Thompson is a commercial property surveyor, undertaking financial viability assessments for public sector clients. She is also passionate about helping APC candidates on their journeys to becoming chartered by acting as an RICS mentor and counsellor and consultant for training group Property Elite. Elise's drive to help others stems from her own APC journey, which she says was not as smooth sailing as she would have hoped for - but ultimately made her a better surveyor and companion to those on the same path.

She says: "I am a firm advocate for mental health awareness being equal to physical health: I want to encourage neurodiversity in the surveying profession and help empower the next generation of surveyors to change the built environment for the better."

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John Tierney


After finishing university in 2015, John worked for Local Government in both Glasgow and Lanarkshire. He became a LionHeart ambassador after failing his APC five times, explaining: "I was really suffering after the fourth attempt, and I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to pass. That's when I contacted LionHeart, who patiently listened to my situation and referred me to their counselling service."

Counselling enabled John to take a step back and analyse how he handled difficult circumstances, rethinking his strategy and passing his APC on his fifth attempt.

He says: "I was incredibly thankful and grateful for LionHeart's support in making a significant difference in my life, and I love how utterly honest and kind they are. I wanted to use my resilience to serve and encourage others."

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Avneet Virdee


Avneet spent two and half years as a graduate surveyor in Reading before qualifying in November 2017. Her career has involved a variety of work including valuations for taxation, development viability, accounting and secure lending purposes.

She says: "As an individual, I have had my own dark times in life and coming out on the other side much stronger, I feel being an ambassador and sharing first hand experience will give hope and encourage mental health and other issues to be spoken about within the industry more openly.

"We all go through moments in life that are 'up and down', and we must not brush these emotions under the carpet but instead acknowledge them, especially as the industry we are in can be stressful." 

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Alison Westwood


Alison graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2010 before becoming a graduate property surveyor. In 2014 she joined GVA as Surveyor and passed her APC.
A year later, Alison joined JLL as senior surveyor and then associate director, before moving to Capco as a Senior Property Manager.

Alison has suffered two major episodes of depression, one in 2013 which resulted in divorce and one in 2021, thought to be triggered by the pressure of juggling career and parenthood as she also dealt with a miscarriage.

She says: "I didn't admit there was a problem until things got completely unmanageable and I was suicidal.

"I know many people in the profession that have struggled but don't share their stories and as a LionHeart ambassador, I want to try to change that. I really wish I had asked for help sooner and I hope to raise awareness so that people feel more comfortable to admit when there's a problem and to seek help before things get to crisis point."


Baby loss and depression

Sara White

Sara White


Sara is a senior area operations manager for Esurv, having previously worked for Colleys and Countrywide. She has previous experience as a residential site manager and general practice surveyor.

Her reasons for wanting to become involved with LionHeart as a mental health ambassador are borne from tragic circumstances following the suicide of a close friend and fellow RICS member.

She says: “My support for LionHeart comes from some difficult personal experiences including the loss of a close friend to suicide who was an RICS member.  If they had known about the support of LionHeart, they may still be with us, and I would have definitely benefitted from the support it could have provided at that time.”