top of page

Dr Nigel Hicks BVSc MRCVS
CEO, Co-Founder & Trustee

Co-founder of Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID)

Qualifying from Bristol University UK in 1973 Nigel initially worked as a vet in his home town of Launceston, establishing his own mixed practice in Lifton, Devon in 1979. The sale of this practice in 2003 allowed him to rekindle his long held interest in the orangutan and the rainforest.  Nigel spent a significant proportion of his early life living in Asia where his father worked for the British Government.


From 2009 to 2013 Nigel worked as resident veterinary surgeon at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Sabah, Malaysia and also in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.


Now spending several months of each year as a freelance volunteer vet working with orangutan in Indonesia, Nigel has worked alongside the veterinary teams at various centres including International Animal Rescue’s orangutan Centre in West Kalimantan, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, Nth Sumatra and Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, Nyaru Menteng.  When in the UK he and his wife Sara continue to raise the profile of OVAID and speak on the plight of the endangered orangutan.


Nigel is a member of Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG), which consists of veterinary surgeons with orangutan expertise and rehabilitation knowledge working in Indonesia and Malaysia.


Sara Fell Hicks BA (Hons)  
Co-Founder & Trustee

Co-founder of Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID)


Sara has had a long career working with animals and joined Nigel's veterinary practice in 1996 as a practice-trained nurse.

Also sharing a lifelong passion for orangutans, Sara has a proactive approach towards saving them and also for rainforest conservation issues.  Since traveling to Sabah with Nigel in 2009, she has served as Liaison Officer at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre as well as working in the clinic and assisting with the rehabilitation of orphaned and rescued orangutans. Sara has previously worked in East Kalimantan and has volunteered with the veterinary teams at International Animal Rescue, West Kalimantan, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, Nth Sumatra & Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) Nyaru Menteng and Samboja Lestari. Whilst principally working in the clinic alongside Nigel she can turn her hand to almost anything.


Sara now juggles time in the U.K. working as a jewellery maker and running OVAID with travelling in Indonesia working alongside Nigel whom she married in 2010.

Lisa Burtenshaw & Noel Britten

Lisa and Noel are truly dedicated and knowledgeable orangutan devotees.


Lisa sold her business in Bath to commit to full time volunteering and until recently spent six months of each year acting as a Facilitator and Enrichment Officer at International Animal Rescue's Orangutan Centre at Ketapang in West Kalimantan, Borneo.


When in UK Lisa fosters rescued kittens for the local branch of Cats Protection League but continues to be involved with orangutan issues and is an advisor to OVAID while helping us with editing and updating our Facebook page and website.

Lisa's multi-talented husband Noel is the comedian of the team (quite literally). A stand up comic and magician, Noel also runs the Bizarre Bath Comedy Tour when in the UK and is a past president of The Magic Circle. More importantly he is totally committed to the orangutan cause.


With many years experience of orangutan volunteering Noel currently has spent a significant portion of each year acting as a hands on facilitator for Orangutan Project's volunteer groups in Borneo.


As an advisor to OVAID his practical experience and approach are a great asset to us.

Hetty Lewis MSc BSc (Hons)

Over the last 10 years, Hetty has worked and volunteered for a number of different nature organisations in the UK and overseas, with a particular focus on community engagement in wildlife conservation. After developing a strong interest in primate conservation during her undergraduate degree in BSc Conservation Biology, Hetty volunteered for 3 months at a wildlife sanctuary for rescued gibbons in Thailand, spent a month conducting field surveys on lemurs in Madagascar, and has also worked as Liaison Officer at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo where she met Nigel and Sara. Sharing their passion for orangutan conservation, she became involved with OVAID in 2014 to help support their work.


After completing her postgraduate degree in MSc Conservation & Biodiversity in 2018, Hetty joined the Earthwatch Institute where she is currently worked as a Programme Coordinator for an urban community wildlife initiative. Curently she is the Wilder Communities Officer at Devon Wildlife Trust


During her free time, Hetty enjoys exploring nature reserves, kayaking, gardening, travelling, photography and she is currently learning Spanish.


Hayley Bagnall


Over the past 15 years Hayley has immersed herself in different contexts: in Corporate business development with Tesco and Mars; as a CSR agency executive; alongside the Malaysian Government as head of operations for International Orangutan Conservation NGO, for the City of Cape Town on World Design Capital 2014; promoting sustainable Philanthropy via the creation of social enterprise projects in South Africa. 


Since 2016 Hayley has been living and working in The Netherlands, first as a human-centred design consultant for Dutch financial services, then helping local start-ups to make an impact. In 2019 Hayley took on her most exciting and challenging role, becoming a Mama to daughter Blye - and is determined to seek out alternatives to ensure a low-impact baby from reusable and biodegradable nappies to wooden toys using vegetable and petal dyes. 


At the start of 2019 Hayley joined Circle Economy as programme lead of Circle Action Hubs, working with a group of international partners to take local action, build capacity, and develop a consistent global voice around a circular economy. Hayley is Co-founder and Chief Communications Innovator at HuckleBe a strategic communications consultancy.

OVAID's veterinary Advisor


After graduating from Massey University in New Zealand with zoology and veterinary degrees in 1998, Steve spent several years working in zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centres and sanctuaries in Australia, Thailand and Cameroon before joining the team at Chester Zoo as veterinary officer from 2003 to 2018. Steve is currently Programme Manager  for Wildlife Health Australia and  a capacity development and research consultant for the University of Minnesota, USA.


As well his previous role of helping to provide the clinical service at Chester Zoo, Steve has been working with PASA for over 15 years, and following PASA’s model, he co-founded the Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group with the Orangutan Conservancy and many Indonesian and Malaysian wildlife vets and scientists.


He is a member of the IUCN Wildlife Health Specialist Group, AAZV, BVZS, PSGB amongst others and reviews and edits for several peer-reviewed journals.


Steve is passionate about the importance of following one health principals in the area of ecological health, and strives to facilitate opportunities that allow discussion and mitigation of wildlife disease situations, and its effects on landscape conservation.


Steve is a veterinary advisor to OVAID




Steve Unwin BSc BVSc Dipl ECZM. MRCVS, BVSc, MRCVS.
(European Specialist in Zoo Health Management)

Veterinary Advisor

bottom of page