Barn People

Manager: Tasha Bassingthwaighte

Tasha Bassingthwaighte

Tasha 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, and has worked in the realm of social services and social justice for the past decade, including community-building while working with refugees, immigrants, and women in poverty.
Tasha's inspired in her role 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."
She lives in Totnes with her partner and her children.

Residential Co-ordinator: Ruth Breznay

Ruth Breznay, volunteer co-ordinator at The Barn

Ruth came to practice 14 years ago - after coming on retreat at The Barn - and now she is giving a year's service.

"Over the years The Barn became a second home and refuge to me and  I always felt it would be a wonderful experience to be able to volunteer as a coordinator here, in order to deepen my own practice, live in a community with like-minded people, and hold the space for retreatants," she said.

Before coming here, she worked as a support worker for the last 18 years, working with people with mental health problems, substance misuse issues, the homeless and disadvantaged young people."

Barn Residential Co-ordinators offer a year’s service at the Barn. They facilitate retreats, manage the house, office and garden and support retreatants.

Residential Co-ordinator: Lucy Chan

Nina, volunteer co-ordinator at The Barn

Say hello to Lucy - a Volunteer Co-ordinator at the Barn who joined us in October 2017.

Lucy started meditating in 2010 and has been coming to The Barn as a retreatant yearly for the past 5 years. She has found her meditation practice & time on retreat to be profound in helping her navigate through life, so she felt increasingly inspired to give service & support back to The Barn and to those who visit.

On a personal level, she's found that integrating mindfulness practices into her everyday life has been vital in helping her keep balance whilst working in busy health care settings (Lucy has a particular interest in supporting health care professionals & care-givers).

Practices around compassion (towards self and towards others) continue to be an important focus of Lucy's practice and she is exploring different ways to help assist others on their journeys towards wholeheartedness.

Barn Residential Co-ordinators offer a year’s service at the Barn. They facilitate retreats, manage the house, office and garden and support retreatants.

Residential Co-ordinator: Ethan Pollock

Ethan Pollock, volunteer co-ordinator at The Barn

Ethan has joined as a Volunteer Co-ordinator, having spent five years at Plum Village in France.

Read his biography here

Barn Residential Co-ordinators offer a year’s service at the Barn. They facilitate retreats, manage the house, office and garden and support retreatants.

Teacher: Jenny Wilks

Jenny Wilks

Jenny has practised in various Buddhist traditions since 1988, focusing in recent years on Insight Meditation (vipassana). She also has an MA in Indian religions and has studied Pali, the language of the ancient Buddhist texts. She has assisted on Dharma gatherings in France and India, and has taught at the Barn since 2004 and at Gaia House since 2008. Jenny is a clinical psychologist and has trained in mindfulness-based therapies which she has taught to staff and patients in healthcare settings. She currently works as an Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapist based at Exeter University.


Teacher: Ken Streat

Ken Streat


Ken travelled to India in 1976 and spent the next seven years travelling, meditating, and meeting with spiritual teachers. His background in Vipassana was with SN Goenka and other teachers in the U Ba Khin tradition in both India and Burma. Along with the Buddha he has been inspired by the more contemporary voices of J Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi. Ken came to Devon to be a manager at Gaia House in 1985. He has lived locally since then and was a Gaia House trustee until 2005. Ken is married with two grown-up children. He works on the Sharpham Estate as a furniture-maker.

Teacher: Kirsten Kratz

Kirsten Kratz

Kirsten has practised Buddhist meditation in Asia and the West since 1993. In 2006 she was invited to teach and since 2008 teaches group retreats in Gaia House where she also supports those on personal retreat. One of her particular passions is exploring how wisdom teachings can foster appropriate responses to the challenges of our time; she is co-initiator of the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement: DANCE and facilitates retreats with SanghaSeva combining Dharma practice and Service.


Teacher: Mark Øvland

Mark Øvland

Mark has been committed to spiritual practice since an experience in India in his mid-20s opened his eyes to a more mystical sense of reality.

In the years between then and now he has given himself to study and service, living first as a monk of the Ramakrishna Order then later as a coordinator at both the Barn Retreat and Gaia House. He has taught in a variety of places but has a passion for prison work and has recently been exploring ways to bring meditation courses and retreats to those behind bars.

Mark is a student of Rob Burbea and likes to show in his teaching how the Buddhist notion of 'emptiness' can be brought in right from the start, paving the way for a real creativity in practice and opening doors to the deepest freedoms.

Teacher: Ramiro Ortega

Ramiro Ortega

Ramiro studied philosophy and has practised insight meditation since 2005. Interested in the philosophical wisdom of the West and the ancient practice of Buddhist meditation, Ramiro combines these two approaches to help people live a happier, more compassionate and wiser life. Ramiro leads 8-week mindfulness courses for the public and teaches introduction to Buddhist meditation at the Barn retreat centre.

Teacher: Gavin Milne

Gavin Milne

Gavin has been practising Insight Meditation since 2004, including extended periods of retreat in Asia and the USA. He is currently training to be a Dharma Teacher under the guidance of Yanai Postelnik, and is particularly interested in exploring practice wherever we find ourselves - everything from family life to responding to the wider issues of our era.

Teacher: Alan Lewis

Alan Lewis

Alan has been engaging in spiritual inquiry and meditation practice since the 1970s. He spent 17 years as a Theravadin Buddhist monk and disrobed in December 2000. He now runs a computer business and also a website with his partner Vanessa.

If you would like to know more about the information on this page, please contact:

Name: Barn Manager
Tel: 01803 732661
Email: [email protected]
Address: The Barn Retreat, Lower Sharpham Barton, Ashprington, Totnes, Devon, UK, TQ9 7DX