Therapeutic Recreational Experiences for Everyone


We are 3 retired mental health professionals and a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Army. Between us, we have extensive experience in supporting children and adults with mental health problems, including Veterans, running community groups for young people, including Scouts, in addition to expertise in wildlife, woodland activities and woodland management. We recognise the benefits to mental health of nature, natural environments, structured, purposeful, low stress occupation and the importance of trees in tackling our climate crisis.

The CIC has access to a plantation, namely Ashgill Plantation, in Cumbria, under agreement from a private company, Ashgill Woodlands Adventures, who offers therapeutic woodland activities and nature therapy.  These facilities allow us to offer a similar range of opportunities to our target beneficiaries, who would not otherwise have access to such opportunity, due to financial, health and social inequalities. We have chosen Ashgill Plantation as our plantation of choice for delivery, as we have an established link with Ashgill Woodlands Adventures and their mission statement compliments our aims and objectives.  Additionally, their expertise in mental health will open up great partnership opportunities, in support of our target community, which will be of mutual benefit.

Ali Cooke

I have worked in the NHS for 25 years and as a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist for 17 years. I specialised in Eating Disorders for the latter 8 years, but prior to that worked with a range of young people with varying struggles, be that developmental, trauma and attachment related, mental illness or adverse life experiences. Self esteem and societal influences have such a significant impact on our wellbeing and resilience and I am a strong believer in helping people develop a sense of agency by alternative means, to reduce dependency on external solutions and mental health services. The healing effects of nature and the improvement in self esteem and confidence that comes from learning new skills and achieving physical tasks that help the environment, cannot be underestimated. I have personal experience of believing I had no skills or role outside of my NHS job and the joy of discovering I can develop new skills, which really boost my self esteem, confidence and sense of agency. I am keen to work with others to give them this opportunity via TREE.

Debbie Ash

I retired in November 2022 after 36 years working as a mental health nurse.

I’ve had a varied career, helping those most vulnerable in society, with acute and chronic difficulties. During the latter part of my career, I have been very fortunate to have worked alongside those individuals who have experienced trauma and PTSD, by helping them to rebuild their lives. I believe my biggest strength is in building relationships and being able to understand each individual’s unique journey; what they’ve experienced, where they’re at and where they want to be.

I have a deep-seated need to help others find and explore the world around us. I love to share my knowledge of the things I have learned and soaking up the therapeutic environment of nature by getting back to basics and being in the moment.

TREE has provided me with the opportunity to embrace my ethos of healing through nature.

Rob Blake

I was delighted to be asked by Trevor and Ali, to become involved with TREE as a Director.

As an Army Officer for over 30 years, I have been fortunate to travel extensively, train with NATO countries and meet a great number of very interesting, loyal and dedicated soldiers. It has been a privilege to serve with these individuals, whether on deployed operations, in training establishments, on a rugby field or in a social setting. I have made some lifelong friendships and I am keen to help and support these veterans and other groups through this Community Interest Company.

My interests over the years have been outdoor orientated, whether as a Scout Leader, volunteering with the RNLI or camping with the family. So, I would like for others to have the opportunities to experience and enjoy the rugged countryside of this wonderful woodland near Alston, in order to promote good mental health and well being.

Trevor Cooke

I am probably best described as an enthusiastic bodger. I have done many projects in my life, some of which have not ended in a loud bang and curl of smoke!

I started a career as a biochemistry lab technician but got a bit bored with it.

I have had a 30 plus year career as a Mental Health Nurse, but I regard that as a small part of what defines me. What I really enjoy is fixing things and problem solving. I am as enthusiastic about building a log cabin, as helping someone manage anxiety or psychosis. Some of my most rewarding experiences have been jointly working on practical projects, whether it be with friends, or in my mental health role, and the shared joy of achieving a goal. It’s this experience I would hope we can share with others via TREE.

My philosophy is ‘progress not perfection’, I really believe we are all a bit too hard on ourselves and if we can get to the point of accepting what is in our head, then the rest follows.

Our Vision and Values

Therapeutic Recreational Experiences for Everyone (TREE) CIC is a non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC), providing outdoor activities, that aims to improve individuals’ overall health and wellbeing using nature and the outdoor world.  Our support programs are designed to foster an appreciation of nature and its therapeutic benefits, through the provision of guided support interventions, such as walk and talk, campfire cooking and camaraderie, woodland activities, collaboration projects and nature-based therapy. Our goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment that encourages positive growth and personal development.​

​Our core values are:

  1. respect for nature and our planet
  2. compassion, empathy and social justice,
  3. community giving
  4. teamwork and collaboration with others
  5. bringing out the best in everyone and developing self and others