Here at The Sharpham Trust we are developing a community of practitice - within our core team of mindfulness teachers and coordinators.
We work with experienced retreat leaders who warmly offer wisdom, practical advice and ideas to ensure that your mindfulness experience continues in your daily life.
Amanda has had a long-standing interest in meditation and Buddhist practices. Her interest in teaching mindfulness began in 2011 as she came aware of the growing evidence base of the benefits of this practice on our wellbeing and the link to her work as an educational psychologist. Amanda has trained to teach mindfulness with Exeter University and teaches MBSR to adults.
Amanda has trained with the Mindfulness in Schools Project and occasionally works as their trainer on courses for teachers who want to deliver mindfulness to children. Amanda enjoys bringing mindfulness into school settings for teachers and children and values helping teachers to recognise the link between their own mindfulness practice and how this can have a positive impact in the classroom. Amanda has taught mindfulness to over 1000 children in schools. On a personal level Amanda’s mindfulness practice has supported her to be with difficulties that may arise and to notice and appreciate joyful moments and she has a passion for supporting others who wish to learn mindfulness.
Armel Wraight (they/them pronouns) is the founder of Stillpoint Mindfulness and has been teaching mindfulness to individuals, groups, and business for 10 years.
Their training to teach mindfulness is wide-ranging and includes MBSR and MBCT at Bangor Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, The Mindful Self-Compassion programme with Kristen Neff and Chris Germer, Dot b. with the Mindfulness in Schools Project and Finding Peace in a Frantic World with Chris Cullen at Oxford Centre for Mindfulness.
A psychotherapist in practice for 25 years, Armel holds group space with safety, skill, humour and compassion. Armel also facilitates LGBTQIA2S+ international mindfulness spaces and is co-writing a curriculum for the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion specifically for a queer audience.
Armel is especially interested in self-compassion and trauma-informed mindfulness teaching. Their personal practices of meditation, queer intimacy and nature connection bring deep support to their facilitation work.
For over 10 years, Barry has been guiding meditation groups and coordinating retreats at Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in Bristol, The Sharpham Barn Retreat and also online. He has also worked as the Sharpham Woodland Camp Retreat Manager and is a qualified Integrating Mindfulness & Compassion (CPCAB accredited) teacher.
Barry is inspired by sharing his passion for deepening a sense of connection with ourselves, each other, nature and something bigger than ourselves, all in a spirit of kindness.
Ben Mali Macfadyen
Ben Mali Macfadyen is a facilitator, community artist and storyteller.
After being engaged in environmental activism from childhood, Ben Mali suffered from chronic fatigue which has impacted his life greatly but ultimately empowered him to re-evaluate how he lives in service of the causes he cares about, without depleting his capacity to keep resourced for the long-term.
Ben Mali now works with groups of all ages to creatively explore resilience, both on an individual level and in relation to sustainability and culture. He brings a wealth of songs, stories and nature awareness to his work, his experiences showing to him that the power of vision comes not from logic but creativity.
Ben Mali’s recent work as a coach and facilitator include the Catalyst course in Embercombe (South Devon), 130 cycling activists (COP21, Paris), the World Student Environmental Summit (Sussex), and Edventure Frome, a school for community enterprise (Somerset). His experience with mindfulness and meditation has been diverse and inspiring, from Tibetan buddhism to nature-based mindfulness practices and singing meditation.
Ben Murray - Volunteer Coordinator
Ben, 36, has been interested in philosophy and community for a long time and has experience living and working at retreat centres on Holy Isle and at Plum Village in France.
"It's probably one of the main reasons I was attracted to The Barn role, he said. "It's really quite similar to what they offer at Plum Village in terms of the nature connection, a big emphasis on community and, of course, the mindfulness"
Ben worked on the Happy Farm within Plum Village and therefore he'll be well suited to working and practising in The Barn's gardens. When he's not writing, drawing and crafting, that is.
Ben plays guitar, writes songs and has written and performed a show at the Edinburgh Free Fringe.
The show was a children's story about a girl living on a remote island visited by nature spirits who lead her towards greater wisdom.
He self-published and illustrated a book version of the story too, enjoys painting and drawing and has continued playing his guitar and songwriting since arriving at The Barn.
"My creativity comes out more when I'm living in community," he said. "My wellbeing and practice is strengthened by being in community. I get a lot back from volunteering and giving."
Brigit’s fondest childhood memories are of being with her grandmothers who were both eccentric artists and storytellers with a deep love for the natural world. Heavily inspired by their presence, Brigit grew up with a passion for exploring the wild and expressing the love of it through writing and art. Nature and creative expression have always been Brigit’s refuge and love, and they were her ally through her own journey of recovery.
She achieved a BA in fine art and photography from Brighton university and went on to do an MA in Art psychotherapy at Goldsmiths, London.
Brigit always enjoyed bringing nature, the seasons and elements of the wild into her work with people whether through art, writing or therapy and has loved using art and writing as a way to connect to both inner and outer nature.
She went on to train in wilderness psychotherapy and ecotherapy, exploring such things as re-wilding and restoration of the land and the human condition along with vision quests and solo work. Through her life she has always had a deep love of plants, trees and fungi and apprenticed in foraging and herbalism for many years.
She is currently writing a book about nature, recovery and re-wilding the human psyche which will be published in spring 2024.
Bryony Middleton - Head Gardener
Bryony has just returned from maternity leave to co-manage the gardens with Frances.
Caroline Low - Qi Gong Teacher
Caroline Low first encountered the Buddhist Teachings at Gaia House in 2006 whilst she was undergoing treatment for cancer and found them to be a real game changer in her quest to restore health and vitality. Since then she has attended many retreats and has trained as a Buddhist Mindfulness Teacher at Sharpham House with Martin Alyward and Mark Coleman in 2015.
From 2016 until the present day she has been offering service in Retreat Centres - including Gaia and Sharpham. Her interest in Qigong began whilst pregnant with her Daughter, Chi, now 26, and she has studied in Australia and the UK, and is currently on a Teacher Training Programme with Lee Holden whose Teachers include Mantak Chia amongst other Qigong Masters.
Her wish is to make Qigong more accessible to people of all ages and abilities, to help people de-stress and increase their own internal energy so that they experience more health and harmony in their lives.
Clare Mc Carthy - Volunteer Coordinator
Clare McCarthy is a Barn Coordinator and former nurse and midwife, bringing her caring, counselling experience to the team.
Dene is a lay Ordained Dharma Teacher in the Zen Buddhist Tradition of Zen Master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh.
Dene offers Buddhist and mindfulness retreats across the UK and Europe, with a focus on engaged Buddhism and social action. He has been a student of Zen Buddhism since the mid-nineties and joined The Order of Interbeing in 2007.
He is based in the North of England where his work includes offering Buddhist chaplaincy within Prisons and Mental Health Hospitals.
Dr Jo Gosling
Jo has over 30 years’ experience in the NHS, initially as a Macmillan nurse in cancer care then, after gaining a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 1996, as a Clinical Health Psychologist. She has a longstanding mindfulness practice and has undergone extensive training with teachers from Bangor and Exeter Universities.
She has regular mentoring and attends silent meditation retreats to deepen her practice. As a freelance mindfulness teacher she has delivered numerous MBCT groups for people with recurrent depression at the Mood Disorders Centre, University of Exeter and been supervisor to trainee mindfulness teachers. A personal health crisis, combined with training to teach Mindful Self-Compassion (with Chris Germer and Kristin Neff) led to a change of direction in life and she is now at Plymouth College of Art studying an MA in Fine Art. A natural follow-on has been to combine the two areas of mindfulness and creativity, in the form of retreats and workshops: ‘Mindfulness and Creativity-Working from the Heart.’
Emily is an experienced voice teacher and performer. She has been running community choirs for over 10 years and belongs to the Natural Voice Practitioners Network. She has been exploring "embodied presence" and mindfulness through the 'Movement of Being' work in Devon for the last 5 years, and has used singing as a meditation throughout her life. She is passionate about sharing her love of music and its potential for supporting connection to ourselves and each other.
Emily has a natural gift for being with children, getting on their level of unbridled free and wild wonder.
Having worked as a sought-after Nanny for over 15 years, Emily co-founded a parent-and-child creative play and movement business, with the intention to nurture and bring balance to the social isolation of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Emily is now beginning her training as a postpartum doula, to bring her own ongoing journey of mindfulness and breathwork into new family constellations at a time when they need it most.
Emma has worked in mental health for over 20 years. She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (University of Exeter). She works at the AccEPT clinic in Exeter teaching mindfulness courses to adults with depression and health and social care staff. She also teaches mindfulness to adoptive parents, teenagers, and families with learning difficulties. Emma’s life has benefitted in many ways from mindfulness. She first discovered mindfulness during an extensive period of ill-health and has no doubt that mindfulness gave her what she needed to recover. Emma loves sharing what she has learned with others and is particularly interested in the ways that mindfulness supports wellbeing and flourishing along with increasing capacity to manage stress and ill-health. Emma especially enjoys practicing mindfulness in movement, through yoga and walking.
Ethan has been supporting retreats and mindfulness groups for over a decade. He spent five years training at Plum Village with the internationally recognised Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and currently offers retreats and classes on mindfulness and buddhism at meditation centers and local groups around the UK. His teaching helps people touch more calm and ease in their everyday lives by bringing awareness and appreciation to simple daily activities, retreatants especially love his guided meditations!
Frances Tophill - Head Gardener
Frances and Bryony are in charge of keeping our Grade II* gardens looking wonderful all-year-round, and ensuring that our Walled Garden feeds our participants properly with organic veg.
Frank Gillet - volunteer coordinator
Frank started meditating 11 years ago, finding a foundation for his twin passions, nature connection and contemplative inquiry, in the Buddhist Thai Forest tradition. He has been training as a VortexHealing Practitioner for 5 years, offering energy healing treatments as a support for awakening.
Along the way he has delved deeply into the rich teachings of the world's wisdom traditions, weaving them together with indigenous teachings, energy healing, intuitive movement and modern ecotherapeutic approaches to create a wealth of resources and practices to support his desire to live wholeheartedly and authentically.
He has grounded his studies through environmental activism at tree protest sites, caring for clients' needs as a full-time live-in carer, and long-term volunteering in ecovillages, temples and monasteries from a range of different spiritual faiths.
About the Coach House, he says "I am continually amazed by what we offer here: each group lands in this rich landscape, held by each other and the programme, and together we co-create an experience that invariably leads to a deepening sense of connection, nourishment and openness both to life's challenges and its joys. I feel very blessed to be part of offering these retreats."
Gavin has been practising the Dharma since 2004, and teaching at Gaia House Meditation Centre since 2015. He is particularly interested in the role Dharma teachings and practices can have in responding to our unfolding ecological situation in a transformative way, and turning towards and awakening to the interdependent nature of our collective crisis.
He originally trained as an aerodynamics design engineer, studied sustainable development, and has been influenced by the holistic perspectives of Charles Eisenstein and Ajahn Sucitto.
Jenny Wilks has practised in various Buddhist traditions for over 30 years, focusing on Insight Meditation. She has an MA in Indian religions and has studied Pali, the language of the ancient Buddhist texts.
She has taught regularly at the Barn since 2004 and at Gaia House since 2008.
Jenny worked for many years in the NHS as a clinical psychologist.
She has taught mindfulness-based approaches to staff and patients in healthcare settings and worked as a mindfulness supervisor and trainer at Exeter University.
In recent years her practice has included exploration of deep ecology and nature-based approaches to psychosocial and spiritual well-being.
Jess offers retreats that combine mindfulness, nature connection and creativity. She has been facilitating mindfulness spaces since 2012, initially as part of the Plum Village tradition and for the last six years at Sharpham Barn, House and Woodland.
Reverence for nature informs all that Jess does. Initially trained as a yoga teacher all that she teaches takes its inspiration from the organic shapes of the human body and the forms and patterns of the natural world. She offers practices that awaken each person's unique capacity for awareness, creativity and connection. The spaces she holds are welcoming, intuitive and gently transformative.
Alongside retreats, Jess is a palliative care nurse and holds a degree in English Literature. Eternally curious, she has completed training in Dru Yoga, Scaravelli Inspired Yoga, Creative Writing and meditation, Embodied Anatomy, Nature Connection and Cultural Repair, Qi Gong, Adaptive Yoga, Yoga for Women’s Health and much more
Jo Gosling - Creative Retreat Leader
Jo has had a lifelong creative practice, designing and making in her teens, and later, to textiles and art practices.
Following major surgery, incorporating a mindfulness practice into creativity allowed a healing process to unfold, and an inner wisdom to emerge from the work.
Jo takes part in the annual Devon Open Studios and runs mindfulness and creativity workshops using textiles as a medium.
Her MA in Fine Art was both playful and experimental in the exploration of process over outcome, in particular, of how the rhythm and repetition of weaving has a soothing effect on the human nervous system: this took the form of weaving with linen, nettle, foraged fibre, bark and stems, eco-dying, stitching paper and using found objects in nature, as well as experimental with the fragile nature of glass.
Jo has continued to explore the impact of rhythm and repetition in dance and movement and is an Ecstatic Dance Facilitator. More recently she has been exploring Visual Medicine and its potential for helping us ‘re-wild’ our ancestral stories; she is now embarking on further training in this for therapeutic practice. She has a background of working in the NHS and is a BAMBA-registered mindfulness teacher.
I have been fascinated by nature since childhood and one of my earliest memories is of watching glow-worms as a three year old on the south Downs, in Hampshire.
Since going freelance in 1999 I now work as a ecologist specialising in invertebrates, wildlife artist and public speaker on a wide variety of projects including an illustrated wildlife diary, ecological studies of invertebrates including the blue ground beetle Carabus intricatus, the heath potter wasp Eumenes coarctatus and the Horrid ground weaver spider Nothophantes horridus. I have worked with the BBC Natural History Unit on many television programmes including the award winning Smalltalk Diaries, the Natural World – Earth Pilgrim and the David Attenborough series - Life in the Undergrowth. I have also contributed to several Living World programmes for Radio 4 and more recently have appeared in several short films on the– BBC One Show.
I have won a number of awards for my drawings and paintings, notably the Wildlife Art Gallery Award, in the 1992 European Bird Artist of the Year competition and in 1997 was the British Birds Bird Illustrator of the Year. My work has appeared in many books including the Devon - wildlife through the seasons and Bugs Britannica.
Jon Howell - Fermented Food leader
Jon is a nature connection guide, mentor and facilitator.
Teaching fermenting is one of a series of "How to" courses that Jon has developed in response to the question "What can I do?".
This is the burning question as we awaken from the cultural slumber and wish to become more active but don't know where to start. Jon has been keeping his family as healthy and as active as possible by making and eating fermented foods as a staple part of their diet.
Jon is also a wood carver, photographer, rock climbing coach and loving father and lives with his family in Devon.
Julian Carnell - Trust Director
Julian is the Director of The Sharpham Trust which owns and cares for the 550-acre Sharpham Estate.
He originally trained as a teacher before working in international development overseas. This has led to a career in environmental education, conservation and estate management.
Kanada Elizabeth Gorla
Kanada is a leadership & transformational change coach, mentor and facilitator.
With more than 20 years' experience facilitating individuals and groups, Kanada is a long-time meditator and mindfulness practitioner. As a self-employed, single working mum, Kanada has walked the path toward ‘sustaining herself’ as a daily practice.
With her own social business Shine, she helps individuals, teams and organisations to flourish, building personal and collective resilience, well-being, self-leadership and engaged citizenship. Her work as an activist includes launching the Pachamama Alliance Be the Change Symposium in Canada and assisting in training the first group of Be the Change UK.
Kanada is a Senior Associate with Embercombe, a leadership centre where she co-leads The Journey, Catalyst and Speaking out; an Associate with Common Purpose American Express Leadership Academy for emerging leaders in the 3rd sector; and course leader on bi-annual residential programmes with cohorts from On Purpose and Executive On Purpose.
Laura ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Theravada tradition in 1995. Her main teachers within this school have been Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Sucitto and Sayadaw U Tejaniya. In 2015 she disrobed and currently follows the Diamond Heart (Ridhwan) spiritual path alongside her Vipassana (Insight) practice. Laura has been facilitating retreats since 2007, and her main teaching emphasis is the Buddha's teaching on the Five Spiritual Faculties (faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom).
Since March 2019 Laura has been receiving treatment for cancer, and endeavouring to learn from all this brings up.
Lindsay has been practicing meditation since 2003, studying with teachers from the Tibetan and Insight Meditation traditions. She lived and worked at the Ecodharma centre in the Spanish Pyrenees, and helped launch the Ulex Project in 2016, a European training programme which supports activists to navigate burnout and build impact across social movements. Prior to this she was involved in full-time climate activism. Trained in Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living, Lindsay is passionate about how meditation can open up views of identity to support greater intimacy with all life, and how compassion can be a vital resource for navigating ecological anxiety and grief. Currently completing her clinical placement hours as an integrative counsellor, since 2021 Lindsay has been a part of the Barn Retreat team, helping design, develop and deliver their LGBTQIA+ strand of retreats. What motivates her is a deep commitment to a culture of awakening and care for all beings.
Lindsay Alderton - support coordinator
Lindsay (she/her) has been a committed Buddhist practitioner for over two decades, and has regularly led retreats and courses in mindfulness, compassion, and meditation.
A student of Tibetan, Theravadan and Insight teachers, she has also trained to teach Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) and is especially enthusiastic about how practices of self-compassion can lead to more liberatory ways of relating to difficulty. For the last few years she has been training with the Presencing Institute which has taught her the importance of a spiritual practice grounded in the lived experience of the body.
Currently completing her placement as an integrative therapist, Lindsay is particularly interested in the creation of safe, inclusive spaces and helped design and deliver the Barn's first LGBTQIA+ retreat. As an activist trainer Lindsay has worked with the Ecodharma Collective and the Campaign Against Climate Change, and in 2017 helped launch the the Ulex Project, a pan-European training centre for campaigners and change makers. She is committed to combining spiritual practice with social action in fuller service of life.
Currently she is currently a Volunteer Coordinator at The Barn.
Lisa has many years’ experience teaching ecology, natural history, wild plant identification and foraging in the field, across the seasons.
Lisa says "When people tune in, nature has the incredible ability to bring awe and wonder, to calm, to heal, bring perspective and stimulate the intellect in many ways".
Lisa’s passion for plants was ignited during a windy but wonderful university botanical survey on Cader Idris Mountain in Wales. It developed deeply during her plant survey training across a great range of Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves. She started on her path of teaching outdoors with the Field Studies Council in Wales and knew from then on that she always wanted to work sharing knowledge about plants and the natural world to people of all ages.
She says: "I feel exhilarated and alive when I am with people and am able to ignite their interest and open up a new awareness of our local nature through first hand experience in our life-enhancing countryside".
Lisa is The Sharpham Trust's Education and Events Coordinator. Previously she worked with the Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust for many years, and as a Biology teacher before that.
Luciana Edwards - Barn Gardener
Luci first took up gardening aged three, when she had a carrot patch on her mum’s allotment. Since then she has gone on to train in permaculture design and has a MSc in Sustainable Agriculture focusing on soil health, which is her number one passion.
Luci has worked on organic and agroecological farms in Portugal, Nepal, Thailand and the UK. She has worked at The Barn as a kitchen gardener since January 2019, and enjoys producing food in close harmony with nature.
Luci also has experience of mindfulness, having undertaken an 8-week mindfulness course, as well as longer retreats at Sharpham, and continues her own practice at home.
Luci loves all things natural, so when she’s not in the garden you can find her exploring wild spaces with her family.
Lucy is a teacher of mindfulness, compassion, and Buddhist meditation who leads retreats and courses worldwide. She also offers the 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) programme having trained directly under the internationally renowned pioneers of this field; Kristin Neff and Chris Germer. As a practising doctor in the NHS for over a decade, she understands the importance of integrating mindfulness practices as a way to keep balance in everyday life. Her passions include helping people engage with self-compassion practices as a way to build inner resilience, and supporting the caregivers of society.
Lynette Robinson is a qualified Breathworks mindfulness teacher and accredited life coach. She teaches mindfulness to a diverse range of groups, such as seniors living in residential complexes, men in prison and women’s groups. During 2020 lockdowns this diversity expanded to teaching online mindful-working courses for home-workers. Her freely given Zoom group ‘Stop The Week & Rest to Calm' supported the mental and emotional well-being of attendees from four different countries. Author of the book 'Reclaimed', and' Mindfulness Mediations for Modern Day Women' CD, Lynette lives life with passion, following the energies of creativity and contribution. In 2016 she volunteered as Retreat Coordinator for three summers, at The Barn.
In recent years elder-hood has become a growing focus of Lynette’s mindful offerings. She facilitates a local elders group called ‘Living Well, Ageing Mindfully’ and feels this theme offers fertile soil for practice, in her own life as she enters her 60th year.
Lynne has a background as a nurse, health visitor and also trained as a psychotherapist at Metanoia in London in the early 1990s. While training as a therapist she became interested in meditation and has practiced for the last 15 +years. She has trained as a Mindfulness Teacher at Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre, Bangor University and Exeter University. She teaches MBSR groups for the Mood Disorders Centre at Exeter University and also mentors and supervises students taking the Mindfulness Diploma. She is passionate about teaching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to people suffering from stress and brings a depth of experience and compassion to her work. She has a daily meditation practice, receives regular supervision and attends regular silent insight meditation retreats.
Lynne was an NHS physiotherapist for 30 years until she retired due to a long-term health condition. She has been practising mindfulness meditation formally and within everyday life for about 20 years. Her practice came out of her own personal suffering and her ongoing practice has allowed her to flourish since.
She has taught mindfulness within the NHS for staff, to patients with long-term conditions, in education, to carers in the community and to the general public at Sharpham and within other community settings.
She has a deep desire to share the potential this work can offer having gained so much personal benefit and witnessing the support it can give people who commit to this work.
Maite has a background in general and psychiatric nursing, and Movement and Drama Therapy. Since 1990 she has been practicing meditation and attending retreats in different traditions, mainly Insight Meditation and Zen, in India, Europe, the UK, and the USA.
She has trained in Sivananda Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Shakti Dance and has been working for the last 12 years as a yoga teacher and massage therapist. In the last 6 years, she has been co-leading retreats at Sharpham.
Maite's passion is co-creating spaces where people can find insights through connecting with their bodies, with nature, and with each other. Embodiment practices and using the body as a source of wisdom are also her passion.
- incorporates slow, flowing stretches coordinated with the breath, softening and opening up the body and letting the energy flow through freely.
- focuses the mind in the subtle changes happening in body-mind moment by moment, opening and expanding into deeper states of awareness beyond the physical.
- helps rediscover and embody the joy of movement, breath and awareness.
Martha Wright has been practicing and facilitating mindfulness in the Plum Village tradition since 2015.
Her meditation journey began while teaching in a primary school where she was moved to study, practice and develop a well-being programme for children and the adults around them by bringing creativity and mindfulness together. Her research and practice led her to The Barn Retreat where she embraced teachings from a variety of traditions, as well as the refuge she found in nature connection and community living.
She became a residential retreat coordinator for the Barn in 2020 and feels inspired to continue connecting with Sharpham and to support others to explore their own paths via retreat experiences.
Martyna is a qualified MBSR, MBCT-L and Finding Peace in a Frantic World teacher. She has delivered online and live courses and retreats to adults and children. Martyna spent a year at the Coach House as a volunteer mindfulness and nature connection retreat leader.
Martyna is passionate about supporting participants as they begin to make conscious steps towards transformation and discovering their full potential. She has a genuine compassion and empathy for the challenges that bring people to mindfulness. She is an advocate of openness and awareness as the first steps towards realising one’s full potential as we begin, without judging ourselves, to recognise how the consequences of long-held habits might hold us back.
Mike Cooke - Ecologist
Mike’s career in conservation spans 30 years, with specialisms in wildlife surveys, habitat assessment and ecological evaluation.
He has worked with nature conservation training organisation Ambios since 2005 and has played a central role in the development of its programmes over the last 10 years.
At Ambios, he oversees training in species identification, wildlife monitoring techniques, field ecology and ecological restoration approaches. He also provides continuous residential support for trainees as they progress through their placements.
Leaving Art College in 1983, Mike worked for the RSPB at their headquarters in Bedfordshire for 9 years. His work can be seen on nearly every RSPB reserve used as identification cards, murals in information centres and hides as well as on the RSPB website.
A full-time bird illustrator since 1991, Mike has worked for many book publishers, organisations and his work regularly appears in the all of the UK’s birdwatching and BBC Wildlife magazines. To date, he's illustrated 53 bird books. He contributes work as voluntary Art Editor for the Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society and for 8 years served as County Bird Recorder. His opinion is regularly sought on bird identification problems both at county and national level. Mike travels the SW giving lectures, running birdwatching courses and walks as well as leading foreign birdwatching tours.
Nadia Abdel-Karim has practised mindfulness and meditation since 2015, influenced primarily by Insight Meditation and Mahayana Buddhist traditions.
As a freelance mental health worker, she spent several years facilitating support groups and offering one-to-one crisis support across London for the mental health charity Mind.
After training as a Mindfulness Practitioner in 2019, she began co-facilitating 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction courses specifically for people experiencing depression and anxiety.
Nadia relocated to Devon to live at The Barn Retreat Centre, where she spent almost two years co-leading meditation retreats. Alongside leading retreats for Sharpham, she works as a Focusing Practitioner and facilitates spaces for people to connect with their grief.
Her journey continues to be guided by her love for exploring and understanding spiritual traditions and practices.
Nicky Reed - Volunteer Coordinator
Nigel trained in professional youth work and was a Senior Youth Worker for Torbay Council for 20 years. He uses mindfulness within his therapeutic work and has completed the 8-week course at Sharpham Trust.
After leaving the Youth Service, Nigel worked as the Head of Risk Management for a large expedition company, planning and leading remote journeys in the Australian outback. He has also worked as an Outdoor Education advisor for local authorities in Devon and Scotland.
A keen and experienced climber, mountaineer, caver and 5* canoe guide, he loves the outdoors and believes passionately in the therapeutic benefit of spending time in nature.
Nigel has worked alongside Sharpham for a number of years. He currently works as a Child and Adolescent Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist for Evolve Psychotherapy.
Nina Jankelson - Assistant Barn Manager
Nina began practising mindfulness in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, attending retreat in Northern India and Nepal and later drawing inspiration from the Insight Meditation tradition and the teachings of Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
A former residential coordinator at Sharpham's Barn Retreat, Nina has been facilitating meditations, ceremony and retreats for the past five years. Her practice is grounded in a connection to the land and in contacting moments of ordinary beauty and grace in the every day.
She is interested in exploring how contemplative practices can open up our experience of the world and is passionate about creating opportunities for others to do the same.
Ollie Frame works as an integrative therapist, mindfulness teacher and retreat leader. He is a co-leader on the Mindful in Nature programme at Sharpham, for which he has produced a large range of meditations and resources. He teaches the eight-week course in various settings, including to the general public, to teachers and students in schools and colleges, and to various other client groups on behalf of Devon County Council. Also trained to teach the Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) course, he is especially enthusiastic about self-compassion, Metta meditation and other heart-based approaches within the world of mindfulness. As an integrative therapist, Ollie has a particular interest in Psychosynthesis, depth psychology, inner journeying and the therapeutic use of meditation and the imagination.
Patti Summerville - Coach House Manager
Patti began a personal meditation practice in 1996 after a retreat at the Tushita Institute, Dharamsala, India. Over the years her practice has been influenced by Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist traditions.
In 2013 she was a co-ordinator at The Barn Retreat Centre, an Insight Mindfulness Meditation Retreat centre at Sharpham. Patti trained to be a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with Exeter University in 2014 and an Integral Hatha Yoga Teacher in 2009 at the Sri Swami Satchidananda Ashram.
On a personal level, Patti has found great benefit integrating mindfulness practice into her everyday, private and professional life as an occupational therapist, Sharpham Trust retreat leader and now manager of The Coach House
She is passionate about supporting others on their journey towards more contented, peaceful and compassionate lives.
Professor Katherine Weare
Katherine is a keen and committed member of the team of teachers at Sharpham, teaching on the secular retreats and 8 week courses, and regularly delivers dharma talks at the Sharpham Barn Retreat Centre. She was drawn into mindfulness 15 years ago when she found it a personal lifesaver during a major health crisis and trained to be a secular MBSR/MBCT teacher at the University of Exeter. Since then she has reframed her life around mindful awareness, with a daily vipassana practice supported by regular silent retreats, and was inspired by following the Committed Practitioner Programme at the Bodhi College on "early Buddhism for a secular age". She has also long been inspired by close contact with Plum Village and recently co-authored a best-selling book with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh 'Happy Teachers Change the World' which has been translated into 6 languages.
She is further nurtured by a daily practice of yoga and pilates, and close contact with animals and nature, enjoying the outdoor life with her family in south Devon.
Her practice and teaching is based within a long professional career in Universities and in policy work to promote wellbeing and mindfulness across the UK and Europe, all of which helps her keep up with current thinking and practice on mindfulness in the wider world. She is Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton, and Honorary Professor and Associate at the University of Exeter. She is currently leading work with Mind and Life Europe to help their mission to bring together modern science and contemplative wisdom, heading up a growing Community of Contemplative Education of experts and practitioners across Europe. She is also co-lead for Education for the Mindfulness Initiative, set up by the All Party Parliamentary Group on mindfulness and wellbeing to develop evidence-based secular mindfulness across the UK.
Rachel Cottam - Volunteer Coordinator
Rachel Cottam is a practising meditator and doctor.
She originally came to Sharpham as a retreatant but is now balancing her role as a GP in Brighton with helping to support retreatants at The Coach House.
After working through Sharpham's guided meditations, and then doing an online course in mindfulness, Rachel realised that she wanted to develop a meditation and mindful practice and train to teach too.
Ramiro is a mindfulness teacher and a retreat leader, and also a philosophical counsellor in training. He started practising in Spain in 2005 in the Soto Zen tradition, moving later to the UK to finish his studies in philosophy, where he came into contact with other different schools of meditation practice.
Finally Ramiro made his home in the UK and after spending two years living in Gaia House, a Buddhist meditation retreat centre in the Insight Meditation tradition in Devon, he trained to teach mindfulness with the University of Bangor and with the University of Exeter. He is also participating in the teacher training programme with the Bodhi College.
Rupert has practiced in the insight meditation tradition for nearly 25 years in Europe, America and Asia. His primary teachers have been Christina Feldman and Joseph Goldstein. The work of Toni Packer and John Tarrant have also been influential in his practice and teaching. He teaches at various retreat centres in Europe and beyond. For the past 4 years Rupert has lived and worked at Ecodharma, a contemplative retreat community in the Spanish Pyrenees dedicated to exploring the role of the Dharma in the movements for social justice and ecological sustainability. At Ecodharma he directed the Nature based Practice strand of their work that marries contemplative practice with a range of approaches within the field of experiential ecopsychology in a wilderness setting.
Ruth Breznay - Yoga Teacher
Ruth has been practising Hatha Yoga for over 30 years, and completed 300h & 500h teacher-training courses in Rishikesh, India, in 2014.
She has also been practising Insight Meditation since 2004, which has informed her yoga teaching: emphasising mindful movement and still awareness.
Says Ruth: "I encourage holding the postures for a while, rather than rushing through them, and using the breath as the connecting force between body, mind, and spirit. The practice is about exploring and listening to your body and mind, with an attitude of acceptance for yourself wherever you are at this moment in time".
Ruth is inspired by this quote by one of the yoga teachers she met in India during her training: “Yoga is not about touching your toes, but about touching people's hearts". Ruth strives to teach yoga in this spirit.
Shahin is a Senior Counsellor in the NHS where she also teaches Mindfulness. She works with people with mental health issues and runs a mindfulness group. She has been a Counsellor for 17 years and, prior to this, worked in education as a Teacher and Teacherâ€trainer for many years.
Shoshana’s personal journey led her to Buddhism, yoga and health. After completing her BA in psychology in 1995 she lived in Japan and India, devoting herself to practice of Vipassana (insight meditation), Ashtanga Yoga and traditional Karnatic singing for 4 years. During this time she sat in monastic environments in the mountains of Tamil Nadu and Sri-Lanka.
Since 2016 Shoshana has led mindfulness & nature connection retreats in the woodlands at Sharpham Trust in Devon, where she supports the participants to cultivate compassion, rest and self care in the present moment while finding a renewed connection to our Earth and our bodies as a living resource.
Shoshana's influences are yoga, breath and movement, Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka, Love & Kindness (Maitri and Karuna) as exemplified by Dalai Lama, Earth & Heart of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and resourcing Japanese practices of Shinrin-Yoku Forest Bathing and Misogu Waterfall cleansing.
Shoshana has been teaching meditation, yoga and health practices and facilitating groups since 2000 when she founded Karuna Detox Retreats, the first detox retreat outside of Asia. She was also a founding member of Eco-Forest project, a raw-food land based spiritual permaculture community initiative in Spain. She supports awareness of social issues and created lottery-funded programs to support people with caring roles in her community and led large events raising awareness to ending violence against women & children. Shoshana is trained in Trauma Release Exercise (TRE), Systemic & Family Constellations and Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner and leads healing sessions online outside of retreat time.
Sophy has an eclectic background in many aspects of creating healthy culture for individuals, groups and communities. She teaches at Schumacher college, runs workshops, and offers organisational development and conflict facilitation. Originally trained as an engineer, she has worked as computer systems designer and trainer, psychotherapist, and family constellations practitioner.
In 2005 she moved to Devon and helped to set up Transition Town Totnes (TTT), one of the foremost projects in a movement for positive visioning and action in communities, that has spread to over 40 countries and been tried in thousands of communities in some form. Sophy set up the Heart and Soul group of TTT, and spent 10 years bringing insights from her many inner practices (including meditation, grief tending, mindfulness and nature connection) to the Transition Towns movement. During her time working for Transition she saw many highly skilled people reaching a place of burnout, and has been on that edge herself. It became a central part of her enquiry into how we can create life enhancing, positive culture together – and the reasons we sometimes don’t. She sees that mindfulness is an essential tool for healthy systems, not only for individuals but also in groups and communities.
Sophy was a keen footballer in east London for many years – too old to slide tackle any more she enjoys growing as much food as she can, and still just about gets up the Devon hills on her bike.
Steve trained as a mindfulness teacher with Mindfulness UK. He started practising meditation in 1990 within the Buddhist tradition, and has attended retreats, mostly at Gaia House, with many different teachers. Steve is a qualified Psychosynthesis counsellor and has engaged in many forms of personal development and menswork over three decades, including co-leading transformative Rites Of Passages retreats for men. He leads workshops on Ken Wilber’s ‘Integral’ model and is a musician and composer. ‘Blue Pearl: A One World Oratorio’, Steve’s ground-breaking sacred choral work, had its world premiere in 2022; the film of the concert is on YouTube. Steve has presented seminars on sacred music, ‘The Power Of Music’, at many events, including the Integral European Conference, the foremost global gathering of Integral thinkers and practitioners. He has attended the one-week Mindful Self-Compassion retreat with Chris Germer and Kristin Neff. He is passionate about passing on the gifts of mindfulness, meditation, and deepening our connection with nature.
Tasha Bassingthwaighte - Barn Manager
Tasha Bassingthwaighte was interested in spiritual practice from a young age and did her first Buddhist meditation retreat at the age of 18. She lived in Nepal, spending time with Tibetan Buddhists, and later moved to a dharma centre in France, deepening her experience and practice of Buddhism.
She has lived in various intentional communities in Canada, the USA, and the UK. She is also inspired by the natural world: "From as young as I can remember, I've been aware of how nourished by nature I am," she said. "The Barn is an amazing meeting of three of the things that I am most inspired by: nature connection, Buddhism and community. They're also the things that Barn-founder Maurice Ash named as the three pillars supporting the vision for The Barn: meditation, community and working on the land."
She has worked in the realm of social services, social justice and non-profit organisation for the past decade, including community-building while working with refugees, immigrants, and women in poverty.
Tasha's inspired by how The Barn works its magic on people. "In one of the early retreats I witnessed at The Barn, on the second day, a retreatant said that it was the most important thing they'd ever done in his life. He repeated it on the last day. The Barn touches people like that, myself included."
The Venerable Canda
The Venerable Canda began meditating in 1996 with SN Goenka.
She ordained as a Buddhist nun in Burma in 2006 and subsequently took full 'bhikkhuni' ordination with the encouragement of her Teacher, Ajahn Brahm.
Her approach to meditation focuses on kindness and letting go as a means to deepening stillness and is highly informed by the compassion and pragmatism of the early Buddhist texts.
In 2016, Ven Canda founded Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project with Ajahn Brahm - a UK charity aimed at establishing a nun's monastery in the UK.
Wendy Greek - Coach House Cook
Wendy is the Coach House Cook.
Will has been meditating in various Buddhist and Non-Dual traditions for a decade, guided by a spirit of exploration and experimentation and a sense of wonder and possibility. He mostly finds his home in the Insight Meditation tradition. In 2019 he trained as a mindfulness teacher with the Mindfulness Training Institute under Martin Aylward and Mark Coleman, and in 2020 he joined the team at the Barn Retreat, where he spent over a year facilitating both online and in-person retreats. He has a passion for helping people find approaches and relationships to meditation that work for them, with the view that meditation practice is not a fixed path but a vast landscape to explore.