Natalie Simpkin: The Great Health Clinic

Estimated reading time:4 minutes, 58 seconds

Everyone has a story. For the past 70 years Islingtonians have turned to The Great Health Clinic, on the edge of the Marquess Estate, when they’ve overdone their training or just feel sore. Here Natalie Simpkin talks about this family-run Islington business. Interview by Nicola Baird. Photos by Kimi Gill.   

Natalie Simpkin from The Great Health Clinic (c) Kimi Gill for Islington Faces

Brought up in Islington in Noel Road, until she was 14-years-old, Natalie Simpkin is a huge Islington fan. Which is lucky as she spends most days in the borough, at The Great Health Clinic where she is Practice Manager and Director.

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“We’re a private health clinic offering physiotherapy, chiropody/podiatry and sports massage,” explains Natalie, 29. The family-run clinic was opened in 1947 by chiropodist Ben Sclaire, who ran it with his wife Rita and, later, their two chiropodist children, on the corner of Essex Road and Balls Pond Road. The clinic then moved to Essex Road in the late 1950s before opening in 1979 on the Marquess Estate. “We see people with desk jobs, sports people who have got injured by upping their training and people of all different ages, from children to the elderly,” says Natalie. “And we have a lot of patients who have been coming for chiropody for 30 or more years for routine check ups.”

In 1994 Kay Lawman, Natalie’s mum, a physiotherapist, joined the practice and bought it from the Sclaire family. She turned it into a multi-disciplinary clinic offering the existing chiropody/ podiatry as well as physiotherapy and sports massage. In May 2003 the clinic was renamed the Great Health Company, which later became The Great Health Clinic. Kay died in 2010 but Natalie and her brother James became owners of the clinic.

“Sometimes people hobble in, or come with crutches, (fortunately the 30 and 277 buses stop close by and Canonbury Overground is around 100m away). My Mum always said the job of physio was so satisfying, especially helping back pain, because after treatment people feel so much better and are really thankful,” says Natalie when we meet in Caffé Nero, 75 Upper Street.

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Places Natalie Simpkin likes in Islington

  • For two years I volunteered at the Marie Curie shop at Highbury & Islington roundabout, 318-320 St Paul’s Road. I really enjoyed it. I chose it because they helped my Dad, who passed away four years ago, and I wanted to give something back. I liked interacting with the customers. It was quite busy and I remember buying some really nice items, such as a Burberry trench coat that fitted perfectly.
  • For about three years, when I was doing A levels, I enjoyed volunteering (as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award) at the Rosebowl homework club just off St Paul’s Road.
  • I really like the Upper Street area. Going to Gallipoli, 102 Upper Street, and Gallipoli Again – my mum’s favourite restaurants – brings back nice memories. I feel like an Islington girl as my childhood was here and the clinic.
  • Camden Passage is like another world – off the beaten track. It’s quite quaint and also really cool. I like Kipferl at 20 Camden Passage.
  • I really like Canonbury Square architecturally and love walking those back streets because I feel so relaxed there.

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Natalie Simpkin from The Great Health Clinic. (c) Kimi Gill for Islington Faces

Keep running
Natalie is not science trained – her degree is in languages – but she is part of the nine-person team running the clinic from 8am-9pm Monday to Friday and on Saturdays from 8am-5pm. Running a clinic which specialises in sports injuries, alongside chiropody, is a perfect match for Natalie, who has recently competed in Tough Mudder and sometimes runs from the clinic to her home, in Paddington.

“I love running. I’ve done it since I was 14 when I ran for Barnet and then as cross-country captain for Manchester University women’s team. It’s nice having the clinic and being able to recommend to family and friends – and I use it too. I have regular sports massages at the clinic for any tightness,” she explains. “We have a rehab gym which the physios use and also do acupuncture which can be really effective,” she adds.

Natalie understands the power of celebrating significant milestones – which is why she asked Islington’s Mayor Una O’Halloran to join the clinic staff, patients, friends and family for the clinic’s 70th birthday which was covered by the Islington Gazette in this feature and by the Islington Tribune

“The Mayor had a chiropody treatment and said it was a really good experience,” says Natalie who is a completely lovely person to chat with. Most of us – whether confined by desk jobs, over-enthusiastic exercise or confirmation – at some point need medical help to sort out niggles and injuries. Often finding where to go is a huge struggle, so it is fantastic this sort of resource can be found in Islington. It’s also why, should you go to The Great Health Clinic you may well find yourself waiting to be seen with dancers, personal trainers, skilled footballers, people just about to have a new hip or wanting biomechanical assessments (to be fitted with orthotic or bespoke insoles) all looking for ways to be pain-free again.

  • The Great Health Clinic, Unit 1 Marquess Estate, St Paul’s Road, N1 2SY, tel: 020 7226 6406
  • Insta @thegreathealthclinic
  • Facebook: The Great Health Clinic
  • greathealthco.com

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird dot green at gmail dot com.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola