Our Team


Darren Gibbins BVSc

Veterinarian Director

Darren is a vet who really loves animals; he has dogs, cats and multiple horses that rely on him as their primary carer.

Darren graduated from the University of Sydney in 1993 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. After working in mixed animal practice in Bega and small animal practice in Caringbah. Darren ventured to the shores of mother England, and worked in large animal practice in South Hampton for 5 years. A little over the cold weather and grey skies Darren returned to the fairer weather and beaches of Australia. Darren set up his own practice by the beach in Forster NSW, handling small and large animals. 


Darren now has come to Cooks Hill Vet Clinic and moved the family to the fantastic Hunter Valley and enjoying the life that Newcastle has to offer. Darren enjoys riding his horses as well as time with the family, including the animals.


Darren believes that animals deserve great veterinary care and nothing less. Pets love their owners unconditionally and that should be reciprocated. One of the ways that is done is through really good health care. Darren’s aim with Cooks Hill Vet Clinic is provide the best pet care possible, by communicating with owners so they understand their pet’s conditions and the options they have for treatment. Darren aims to provide the highest quality service that the pets of Newcastle deserve.


Sneha Mata BVSc


Sne graduated from Sydney University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science.

Sne has been working in small animal practice around Newcastle since graduating.

Most recently she worked three years at the RSCPA before joining our team in 2017.

We are proud to have Sne on board as a full time Veterinarian at our clinic.

Her caring and bubbly personality fits in perfectly with our team.

Sne enjoys yoga, morning walks and bike rides, and spending time at the beach.

She is the proud owner of a dog named Poppy and a cat named Mango.

She has also recently adopted some chickens.


Ben Ford BVSc


Ben grew up on a cattle farm in the Hunter Valley, where his family still resides.
After school he joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a Pilot and completed flying training, before gaining his ‘wings’ and deploying overseas.

He then went on to complete a Bachelor of Applied Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at Murdoch University.

Ben has an interest in all aspects of veterinary medicine and is developing a special interest in small animal surgery.

In his spare time he enjoys heading back to the farm, going to Newcastle’s awesome beaches, running, riding, skiing and all things aviation.


Amy Bird BVSc


Amy graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2019, before moving to Newcastle with her partner.

Amy worked as a Veterinary Nurse for six years while studying for her degree. Amy has worked in the Newcastle region since graduating, she joined our team in April 2021.  

Amy enjoys all aspects of Veterinary Medicine, however some of her special interests include internal medicine and diagnostic imaging.

Amy enjoys being outdoors and exploring the beautiful beaches around Newcastle.

Amy has two rescue cats named Gary and Ginny, a miniature dachshund named Luca and a border terrier named Rudy.


Katherine Allen BVSc

Katherine (Kat) graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science in 2015.

Katherine enjoys all aspects of the Veterinary industry, but she has a particular interest in surgical procedures and cytology.

Katherine has four furry friends; Luna, a very happy 6 year old kelpie cross who Kat adopted after being diagnosed with megaoesophagus secondary to a persistent aortic arch, Tripod, a three legged domestic shorthair who was handed in as a stray kitten into a clinic where Kat did placement and had a leg amputation in order to safe it's life, Francois, a domestic longhair who was also adopted during Kat's student years and is very tolerant of all of the other animals she brings home, and Leo, a very pretty 12 year old ragdoll who is Kat's eldest fur baby.


Kassie Taylor

Assistant Practice Manager

Kassie is our longest standing nurse here at Cooks Hill Vet Clinic. For over 9 years she has always  been the smiley face behind the counter. Kassie started her nursing career in Bonny Hills with one of Darren's very good friends Dr Stephanie Penn. Kass decided to leave Dr Penn and the quiet country life and head to Newcastle, with her husband and daughter, and settled at Cooks Hill Vet Clinic.


Kassie is Assistant Manager here at Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic.   If Kassie doesn't know how something works we are in trouble! She is the practice expert on the computer system, the digital x-ray, the blood analysing machine, the biochemistry machine, the anaesthetic machine and the pulse oximeter (the heart monitoring machine)!


She has one very shy cat named Lacey, and a very happy labrador named Hugo.


Amelia Stoolman
Veterinary Nurse

Amelia is our clinic’s all-rounder, she is our head groomer, puppy pre-school trainer and one of our veterinary nurses, she has been working in the veterinary industry since 2014. Amelia has been grooming for years and specialises in breed specific clips such as Schnauzer and Poodles.  


Amelia, being the animal lover she is, has three dogs, a Koolie named Rocky, a Staffy named Jaz, a Cavalier named Paris and a Maltese cross named Winston (who she adopted after he was surrendered with a broken leg), she also has two Conures Zita and Tiki.

Amelia goes above and beyond for her clients and will adjust her grooming to your specific requirements. Her enthusiastic and caring approach has earned her a loyal and happy client base.

You’ll catch Amelia running our puppy pre-school course, teaching both the puppies and their owners some general training and life skills.


Brenna Crozier

Veterinary Nurse

Brenna began her studies of Veterinary Nursing within Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic back in 2016 completing her Certificate 4 in Veterinary Nursing, she has proven to be exceptional in all fields of the industry.

You’ll always find Brenna having a nice chat with all the animals, making sure they're the happiest and most comfortable they can be. Her warm smile and happy demeanor is always there to brighten the day of both our patients, their owners and all of us working amongst her.


Brenna lives with her partner and their three shared cats; Petey, Lilly and Freddy. Bren rescued Petey as a stray kitten in 2016, and Freddy as a stray kitten in 2020, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.


Sara Ahlen

Veterinary Nurse

Sara began her work placement for Veterinary Nursing within Cooks Hill Vet Clinic in 2018, and completed her Certificate 4 in Veterinary Nursing in June 2019.

Sara is one of the most passionate nurses Cooks Hill has ever seen. She traveled all the way from Sweden, and gained an Australian Citizenship, just so she could study and become a certified Vet Nurse.


Sara loves everything nursing, she is therefore the perfect addition to the Cooks Hill Vet team.
Sara also does some work with the RSPCA, including fostering kittens.

Sara has a handsome cat named Sven who she rescued as a stray from the clinic during her student days, and a beautiful dog named Scottie who she adopted from the RSPCA.


Jess Smith

Veterinary Nurse

Jess joined us at Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic in 2020.

She graduated with a Certificate 4 in Veterinary Nursing in 2015, after starting in the Veterinary industry in 2013.


Jess originally worked in the Maitland area before making the move to Newcastle, where she loves the atmosphere of our city Clinics.


Jess enjoys all aspects of nursing, however she has a special interest in medical nursing and prophylactic care.  


Jess has two mischievous Chihuahua’s named Gonzo and Kanye, as well as a Betta fish named Lucifer.


Emily Waugh
Veterinary Nurse

Emily began her work placement for Veterinary Nursing within Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic in 2016, completing her Certificate 4 in Veterinary Nursing.

Emily recently rejoined the team at Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic after gaining extra experience by working at the Animal Referral and Emergency Centre.


Emily enjoys every aspect of Veterinary Nursing, but has a special interest in emergency and critical care, anaesthesia, and surgical nursing.


Emily lives with her partner and their two dogs; Freya, Jamie, and six cats; Delilah, Heidi, Quill, Fee, Rogue, and Pip.


Vanessa Penfold
Veterinary Nurse

Vanessa completed her studies and achieved her certificate 4 in Veterinary Nursing back in 2016, and went on to work at Noahs Ark for five years before joining our team at Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic.

Vanessa appreciates all aspects of the veterinary industry, but has a particular interest in surgery and pathology.


Vanessa cares for two sweet dogs; a golden retriever named Beaumont and a cocker spaniel named Shammy.