THE HEROIC HEARTS PROJECT UK TEAM
KEITH J ABRAHAM
Keith Abraham served 9 years as a member of The Parachute Regiment, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Throughout the latter years of his military service and during his time working for an investment bank, Keith began experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. After exhausting the majority of services and options offered by the NHS and military charities without much success, Keith realised a new approach was needed.
His profound experiences with ayahuasca and psilocybin convinced him of the vital role plant medicines have to offer those suffering from PTSD, brain injuries and mental ill-health.
DR. SIMON RUFFELL
Chief Medical Officer
Simon studied medicine before specialising in psychiatry. He completed his core psychiatric training at The Maudsley Hospital in London and worked at King’s College London as a Senior Research Associate investigating the use of psilocybin for treatment resistant depression. Since 2016 he has conducted research into the traditional psychedelic brew ayahuasca and co-founded the not-for-profit research organisation Icaro Science. Simon completed his PhD entitled Amazonian Ayahuasca and Mental Health Outcomes at Goldsmiths, University of London.
He now works for the Psychae Institute as Senior Research Fellow and Chief Medical Officer, running randomised controlled trials investigating the potential therapeutic application of ayahuasca as well as acting as Chief Medical Officer for Heroic Hearts UK, a charity supporting veterans with psychedelic plant medicine. In his spare time Simon volunteers for the charity Psycare, which offers support to individuals undergoing challenging drug experiences at music festivals.
Mags heads up Drug Science's medical cannabis study Project Twenty21, as well as curating and hosting events for The Psychedelic Society on drug policy, psychedelic science and mental health treatment. Before joining the drug policy world, Mags spent more than a decade working for some of the UK’s top advertising agencies, spanning both London and Manchester.
Mags’ mission is to shift the mainstream narrative around drugs by helping to provide education and challenging UK drug policy, so that therapies and medicines that are currently not accessible to patients might be made available on the NHS and prescribed to the people who desperately need them. She is particularly passionate about shining a light on particular short-comings of our current mental healthcare system - examining Western society's increasing reliance on diagnostic labels, raising awareness around dependency and withdrawal issues with commonly-prescribed psychiatric medications, and looking at alternative, holistic ways of healing for people suffering with mental distress.
Data Protection Officer.
James grew up in Worcester, England before enlisting into the Parachute Regiment at age 16. During his time with the regiment, he saw front-line deployments to Macedonia, N. Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since leaving the military, James has gone on to perform numerous charitable expeditions assisting wounded veterans climb some of the world’s highest mountains, as well as running conservational and sustainable development programmes for young adults, overseas. He continues to mentor several veterans both academically and within a professional capacity and wants to expand on this to focus on helping those with PTSD.
James adopted a vegan lifestyle three years ago for ethical reasons and has since become a staunch advocate of the healing benefits of a plant-based diet.
DR. GRACE BLEST-HOPLEY
Grace earned a Ph.D. in the neurochemical and neurofunctional effects of cannabinoids following completion of a Masters in Neuroscience at King’s College London.
As a research associate, she has continued to research in the field of cannabinoids and mental health, particularly using neuroimaging techniques. Grace has a keen research interest in plant medicine research and how these may be used therapeutically, as well as the mechanisms and risk factors behind the development of psychological disorders. She is currently serving as a member of the reserve armed forces.
Lead Integration Coach
Matthew Evans has been training, competing and teaching Martial and combat arts for the last 30 years.
After a recent accident, Matthew was forced to slow down and concentrate on what was missing from his life. Connecting to the emotional as well the physical side of himself, he felt something was missing while also experiencing PTS from after a family tragedy some years ago.
Matthew felt a calling to plant medicines and Ayahuasca specifically, so went in search of healing and a chance to reconnect to his mind, body and spirit. After receiving his own healing, Matthew now serves others as HHP's Lead Integration Coach on Ayahuasca retreats facilitating Veterans who are looking for their own healing and connection to themselves and family.
An advocate for mental health awareness and the therapeutic use of psychedelics, it is through her own experiences with Ayahuasca and other plant medicines that Carly came to understand the early trauma that had shaped her and led her out of alignment with her true nature and purpose. From a career in the tech industry, suffering from anxiety, depression and burnout, a leap of faith led to her time in South America, learning from wisdom keepers and managing an Ayahuasca retreat centre in the Andes of Ecuador. It was here that her belief in the therapeutic benefits of psychoactive plants and medicines was solidified, as she witnessed countless daily breakthroughs and profound healing.
Carly is a professionally trained Tantra Yoga Teacher and Event Curator for the UK Psychedelic Society, on a mission to cultivate deep connection within ourselves, with each other and with the more-than-human world through education, holistic practices and immersive experiences.
Social Media Manager
Caspar is a Master’s student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, and founder of the Psychedelics in Medicine Society at York University, a legacy of his own transformational ayahuasca experience at La Luna del Amazonas in 2018.
He believes that these types of compounds have incredible potential to alleviate suffering at both the individual and collective level. Through studying neuroscience, psychology and philosophy, taking on practical roles like harm reduction welfare at festivals, and creating content of his own, he wants to forge a career in therapy or research, and help to bring about a trauma-informed, psychedelically literate society. With this in mind, being part of the Heroic Hearts team is proving an incredible experience.
ANDREA SAER NORIEGA
Andrea received her BA in Graphic Design in her home country of Peru, where she worked mainly for advertising agencies, as well as teaching Graphic Design at a design institute. She moved to the UK in 2015 to study an MA in Illustration, and has been working as an in-house designer for brands like The Body Shop in CRM and email design, as well as freelancing as branding designer for different smaller brands and start-ups.
Her personal experience with anxiety led her to complete a Yoga Teacher Training in 2019, and has since then been dedicated to deepening her understanding of emotional resilience and mental health, completing courses on MBSR and Yoga for Emotional Resilience.