Appointments: Working life: ISABEL SPENDLOVE massage therapist - The gentle touch of healing hands.

Byline: JULIE RICHARDS-WILLIAMS

DISCOVERING that she had a natural ability to work in hands-on therapy was the turning point in Isabel Spendlove's life,inspiring her to become a qualified holistic practitioner, specialising in reflexology and different kinds of therapeutic massage ``I realised that as massage benefits the external body, so the ancient art of reflexology gently regulates and balances the internal systems,helping to return them to normal, with impressive results,''declares Isabel, who is based at Oxford House Clinic, Llandudno.

She provides a variety of treatments individually tailored to the age,health problems and state of mind of her clients.

Born in Northampton and raised in Birmingham,Isabel has lived and worked in Wales since 1972, when she and her husband Barry set up a manufacturing business,producing unusual stone-cast gift ware which Isabel hand painted.

Wanting to do more fulfilling work, some years ago she took courses in reflexology and Swedish body massage at Llandrillo College and knew this was her true vocation.

Eager to add to her knowledge, she then studied various therapeutic techniques at a part of Birmingham University,including sports and post injury massage,Indian head massage, ear candling and de-stress treatment.

Together with her close friend, the late Jean Tideswell,Isabel helped to set up the North Wales Holistic Cancer Care Group,offering complementary therapies to both cancer sufferers and their carers. This was a stepping-stone to acquiring more knowledge and after learning further specialised techniques from a senior therapist at the well-knownBristol Cancer Care Centre, Isabel is now qualified to give massage to people in all stages of the cancer journey.

``I find that gentle touch therapy can be extremely beneficial during this difficult time,'' she says.

Four years ago she was invited by physiotherapist Tony Jones to join him as a private therapist at his then newly- opened clinic in Llandudno, which has since become well established, with more than a dozen practitioners providing a wide range of complementary therapies.

Now much in demand,Isabel also regularly works one day a week from the herbal practice in Abergele, primarily with cancer patients as well as other people.

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Isabel Spendlove in action; Picture: JEFF PITT