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The Team

Meet the Team

Gillian Duggan
Owner/ APPI Pilates Instructor (fully certified)

Gillian studied at the University of Ulster, graduating in 2000. Gillian worked her junior rotations at Manchester University Hospital Trust, and had part time hours with Manchester City Football Club sports injury clinic.

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On returning to Northern Ireland in 2002, she held several health service posts in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, laterly holding a senior post in Orthopaedics at The Ulster Hospital Dundonald. Gillian most recently worked at a busy private practice in Belfast from 2004 to 2015 when she and Sonia went into partnership together, and has continued adding to her knowledge within the physiotherapy field. She has attended foot orthotic courses and trained locally for a certificate in Spinal Manual Therapy through Curtin University Western Australia. Amongst her further training, she has gained instructor levels 1 – 3 in APPI Pilates, and at present takes 11 classes a week including AnteNatal and Mother and Baby classes. Gillian is mum to three boys and is also a keen distance runner and can often be seen running with a buggy at the Park Run on Saturday mornings.

Sonia McCay
Owner/ APPI Pilates Instructor (fully certified)

Sonia graduated in physiotherapy from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh in 1995, and spent several years working in the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh gaining valuable experience in a variety of clinical specialties.

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Sonia was physiotherapist for the Scottish Ladies Hockey Union for three years from 1995 and also looked after the Ulster Schoolboys rugby squad in 2001. A year working in Australia provided further clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings. Sonia moved home in 2000 when she started work at a busy private practice in Belfast until 2015 when she went into partnership with Gillian. A special interest in pilates has led Sonia to the belief that it forms an integral part of the rehabilitation of spinal and sports injuries. Sonia trained in Pilates with the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute (APPI) and is a certified Pilates instructor. She has also completed specialist training in ante & post natal Pilates, Pilates and the theraband, Pilates and the gym ball and advanced level Pilates. In addition to physiotherapy, Sonia currently runs 11 Pilates classes a week as well as one to one Pilates sessions. She is the proud mum of two children and enjoys an active lifestyle with her family.

Denise O’Hagan

Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist/ AACP Acupuncture accredited. Denise graduated from the University of Ulster Jordanstown in 1995 and spent four years working as a Junior Physiotherapist in Belfast City Hospital.

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Throughout this time she also worked in the private sector as part of a team of Physiotherapists, Podiatrists and Orthopaedic Consultants in a busy Sports Injuries Clinic. In 1999 she gained promotion to Specialist level when she joined the Physiotherapy Musculoskeletal (MSK) Team in the South and East Belfast Trust (latterly the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust). Denise has accumulated a vast knowledge of the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries which she has gained through her work with numerous sports teams across various disciplines including IFA Premier League Football, Gaelic Football (at club, county and provincial level) and International Netball (NI Ladies Under- 19s). She has also travelled internationally with a number of sports teams including the Irish Deaf Football Team (Deaf Olympic Games, Rome 2002) and the NI Ladies Senior Football Team (Algarve Cup, Portugal 2003). Denise has also been practicing acupuncture for 20 years and has been a fully accredited member of the Association of Acupuncturists in Chartered Physiotherapy (AACP) for that period of time. Denise also has a Diploma in Reflexology (Level 4) and is a fully accredited member of the Federation of Holistic Therapists.

In her spare time Denise is an avid fell-runner and orienteer. She has also completed the London Marathon on two occasions (2004 and 2010) as well as numerous half-marathons, Mountain Marathons and other long-distance endurance events.

Jane Carson

Jane graduated in Physiotherapy from the University of Ulster Jordanstown in 2000 and worked as a junior physiotherapist in the Mater Hospital initially and then the Royal Hospitals gaining a wide variety of experience in many clinical areas including orthopaedics, respiratory and musculoskeletal.

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It was in the Royal she developed a special interest in neurological conditions and was appointed as a Senior 1 Physiotherapist in The Regional Neurosciences Unit in 2005. Jane had already been participating in Body Control Pilates classes and as she found the exercises beneficial to many of the patients she treated she completed the APPI 3 basic matwork courses in 2008/2009. Since then Jane’s interest in Pilates has grown and she continues to use it within her NHS post, now in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and in teaching classes here at Belfast Pilates. She continues to develop her Pilates skills through courses including APPI ante and post natal, advanced matwork and reformer on the mat using the Pilates band. When not working in the NHS or taking Pilates she is a busy mum of two.

Rachel Norwood
BSCs (Hons) MCSP

Rachel graduated from The University of the West of England in 2006 and has 11 years experience as a clinical and sports injury related physiotherapist.

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After graduating she worked and continued to train in the private sector at a spinal clinic in Lisburn. Developing her personal interests in health and sport fitness she has also worked at two leading fitness centres as a circuit coach and onsite physiotherapist. Continuing her involvement in sports injuries she has provided physiotherapy treatment, preventative injury rehabilitation protocols and on pitch first aid to Ards Ladies Rugby Club. In the last 8 years Rachel has worked in a busy Private Practice in Belfast where she developed her knowledge and interest in the Musculoskeletal and sports injury field through the use of cutting edge physiotherapy. She gained specialist knowledge in spinal and pelvic injuries alongside biomechanical assessment and extended her service to her clients through massage therapy and carrying out domiciliary based treatment for high functioning neurology rehabilitation, house bound clients and for those with severe multi-pathology based injuries.

Recognising the benefit of specific core strengthening exercises in rehabilitation and prevention of injuries inspired her over the last 4 years to advance her studies in Pilates and she has now completed instructor levels 1-3 in APPI Pilates and specialist training in ante and post natal Pilates. On a personal level she has been able to resolve, through Pilates, a severe pelvic and spinal injury. Without Pilates she would have been left with chronic multi sited problems and her journey to recovery would not have been an incredible success allowing her to return to all her sporting interests stronger and with improved performance, postural awareness and increased endurance. Outside of work Rachel is a keen wall climber, enjoys all outdoor pursuits and is a fitness enthusiast. Her love of animals has led her to volunteer at a local dog rescue shelter and she is passionate about developing her knowledge/attending courses in to mindfulness, relaxation and meditation.

thomas Leitch

Thomas graduated from university of Ulster, he has experience working within the NHS and 14 years experience working in private practice. Postgraduate qualifications in acupuncture and Pilates which enables him to deliver the best quality care.

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Thomas has a keen interest in sports and gym-related injuries, joint and back pain, with a personal interest in endurance events such as running and cycling. He has competed in endurance events around the world i.e.Berlin marathon, New York marathon and mountain Ultra running events, Thomas also enjoys weekly parkruns (500+ and counting). He is client focus in his treatment approach and a knowledgeable resource for all fitness enthusiasts.

Shona Barker

Shona graduated from Northumbria University in 2008 and spent 3 years working on Vancouver Island for the Canadian Back Institute (CBI) as well as gaining some experience working in Paediatrics within schools.

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She then moved back to London and completed her junior rotations, before specialising in MSK Paediatrics.

Shona moved back to Northern Ireland in 2014 and worked in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children within the spinal and orthopaedic service for approx 8 years before recently moving to a Paediatric Community post based in East Belfast.

During her time in the Children’s Hospital, Shona was working within the Scoliosis service and developed a special interest in this area, and especially in Physiotherapy Scoliosis Specific Exercise( PSSE). She recently went to London and trained in Schroth Best Practice, an evidence based treatment option for juveniles, adolescents and adults with scoliosis and/or kyphosis.

Shona should do more exercise and would love to do more Pilates but she uses her 3 children as an excuse for watching a lot of TV and sometimes cycling to the shops, but she does walk them to and from school. One day she would like to go surfing and hiking again!

Claire Flanagan
Claire graduated from University of Ulster at Jordanstown in 2011. She has extensive experience working within private practice since 2016 and firmly believes that early intervention is the best intervention for all MSK Injuries.  She is skilled in manual therapy and is also acupuncture trained.
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Claire has Levels 1-3 and APPI certification for Pilates and thoroughly enjoys and actively recommends using Pilates as an early rehabilitation tool to facilitate both spinal, sporting and occupational Injuries.

Claire has a special interest and specialist training for women’s health physiotherapy. She thoroughly enjoys working with female clients pre- and post-natal with special focus on the pelvic floor, core and more!

Women’s health physiotherapy is for women of all ages whether you have experienced pregnancy and birth or not.

Women’s health assessments are tailored to individual needs relating to pain and dysfunction of the pelvic floor, Core, bladder or bowel.

Claire currently takes antenatal Pilates classes in clinic alongside General Mat Pilates classes.

She advocates a holistic approach to physiotherapy including lifestyle, occupation, leisure and stress management to focus on individualised treatments and rehab programs to enhance client’s overall wellbeing.

Orlaith Boyle

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Gillian Armstrong

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Erin Cooper

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Neville McMullan

Dr McMullan graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast with a degree in Medicine in 1998. He began his medical career at the Downe Hospital and then the City Hospital before moving on to the Ulster Hospital, gaining valuable experience in various medical disciplines.

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In 2003, Dr McMullan took on the role of GP partner at Cherryvalley Health Centre, where he has been instrumental in providing comprehensive primary care services to the community in East Belfast. His main interests are in MSK medicine and minor surgery. For the past 14 years, Dr McMullan has been part of the team in the chronic pain department at the Ulster Hospital. His experience gained from years in primary care has brought a broad and balanced approach into managing chronic pain with the aim of helping patients improve their quality of life through tailored pain management strategies.

Over the last five years, he has served as a specialist GP in musculoskeletal medicine for the East Belfast GP Federation.

He enjoys a busy life with his wife and 3 teenage boys. When he is not working he enjoys travelling, trying to keep fit and is involved in leadership in his local church.

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