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About Lapidus International

The Writing for Wellbeing Community


Chair of the Board


 Val Watson

Val Watson


Val Watson is an independent counselling and psychotherapy practitioner, supervisor, coach, consultant and trainer. She has worked in education settings for over 30 years and has extensive voluntary work experience with community-based organisations and projects. She has a passion for racial justice, a continuing interest in community work and learning about equalities issues and change. Val has published chapters in edited texts on race and counsellor education. She has recently stepped down from her role as Head of a University Counselling Service for students and staff. Whilst in that role Val discovered and built on the therapeutic benefits of journaling and letter writing

Amongst many other things Val’s interests include, walking, reading, music, gardening, sport, travelling, cinema, TV, singing and attempting craft projects.


Community Engagement


 Poonam Madar

Dr. Poonam Madar


Dr Poonam Madar is a writer, sociologist, visual methodologist, consultant, and life coach. After winning a scholarship at the University of Warwick, Poonam went on to graduate with a PhD in Applied Social Studies. Her research includes the use of arts based methods to explore themes of identity, culture, difference, and belonging. Poonam specialises in Visual Methodologies, Qualitative Research, and the Sociology of Emotions. She writes on social issues and factors that influence the human condition. Poonam has over 20 years of extensive experience in the world of teaching and learning, having taught across universities in and around London, including having been the only woman to be nominated as Lecturer of the Year in her Law Department (2018). For two years (2017-2019), Poonam was a Sprint coach and mentor; an immersive personal development programme that aims to inspire and empower women in achieving their goals. She has a proven track record of delivering innovative and engaging education and wellbeing seminars and workshops. Poonam is the owner and founder of Working Warrior and through her company she promotes, encourages, and facilitates personal development and growth.

Among other things, Poonam enjoys reading, swimming, music, travelling, cinema, and art exhibitions.




 Toni Hurford

Toni Hurford

Toni Hurford is an emerging survivor poet and writer who finally joined Lapidus in 2018. Toni began writing during her counselling studies and enjoys how Lapidus embraces free and humanistic approaches and supports people to find their own way through writing and with each other. She’s looking forward to hearing more of others’ experiences in the Groups role.





 Kim Etherington

Dr. Kim Etherington


Kim Etherington PhD is Professor Emerita at the University of Bristol, Fellow of BACP, semi-retired BACP senior accredited counsellor and supervisor, and accredited EMDR practitioner in private practice. She is an experienced author, journal reviewer and editor.

Kim has been a member of Lapidus since 2005 but has used writing all her life as a personal resource which she has integrated into her work as a therapist. In March 2021 Kim became interim Chair of Lapidus International, a shared role with her longtime friend and colleague Jeannie Wright with whom she also shares the role of Lapidus Research Director. She is also on the editorial board of the LIRIC journal.





 Dr.Jeannie Wright

Dr. Jeannie Wright

Dr. Jeannie Wright has been a member of Lapidus almost since its beginnings. Now in a Lapidus group based in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, we identify with Robin Hood. She has taught and researched in several universities and practised writing for wellbeing in community agencies internationally. She has been a reviewer and editorial board member of journals mostly connected to talking therapies and is delighted to be part of the new Lapidus journal, LIRIC. Reflective writing in counselling and psychotherapy’ is now in a 2nd edition with Sage. Editing books like ‘Writing Cures’ and producing other publications that show how fantastically useful creative writing is will continue and she is now writing more poetry and fiction.


Strategy and Governance


 Kathyann Goddard

Kathyann Goddard

I worked for the NHS across divisions for about 20 years. My first job was a receptionist at a GP surgery where I remained for eight years, gaining promotion twice and leaving as a Health Promotion Officer. I have worked at a number of hospitals, the last being a Mental Health Trust. I gained my degree in International Business and Caribbean History and then went into the world of project management. Having a learning difficulty, the road to this position was not always paved but definitely interesting.




 Kiz Manley

Kiz Manley

When her sister Promila died in 2000, Kiz Manley experienced the power of expressive writing to heal grief and trauma. A graduate of Metanoia’s Masters in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, she currently facilitates writing for wellbeing with: offenders, homeless people and those experiencing poor mental health. Having researched Rap’s therapeutic potential for her thesis, in 2012 she founded Hip Hop HEALS - a project that promotes Hip Hop’s healing powers within the helping professions. During her previous career, Kiz taught English and Drama at secondary level before moving on to education and outreach in the cultural sector. She still tutors Looked After Children today and works freelance as a supply teacher in her spare time.





Sophia Stirling

Sophia has been on the Lapidus board since November 2020. Sophia currently works as a School Business Manager for a Catholic primary school and has over 30 years finance and administrative experience working in local government. Sophia also works part time as a diet consultant. Her aim is to ensure that Lapidus members and associated stakeholders receive the best resources and services possible.

Our Staff


Membership, Communications and Events Coordinator


Richard Axtell

Richard Axtell


Richard Axtell is a children's writer, games designer, programmer, events coordinator and he makes a pretty decent lemon drizzle cake too. His interests lie in using technology and digital media to promote wellbeing and creativity which is his excuse as to why he has broken more laptops than he can count. If you have a question about Lapidus, you can email him on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..