Barn People

Manager: Tasha Bassingthwaighte

Tasha Bassingthwaighte, Manager at The Barn meditation retreat centre

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: Barry Thurgood

volunteer co-ordinator at The Barn

Barry has joined as a Volunteer Co-ordinator, continuing his long history with The Barn.

He first came on a retreat in 2010 and has stayed with us about every 6 months. Now he's here to give a year's service.

"I always found The Barn an incredibly rewarding and nourishing experience," said Barry. "Over the years I felt a growing sense of wanting to give something back and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to do that".

Read more about Barry 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.

Residential Co-ordinator: Huly

volunteer co-ordinator at The Barn

Huly began to meditate in January 2018.

She has always been interested in Buddhism and meditation and was formally introduced to it at a Tibetan meditation centre where she gave service for 4 months.

Before coming to the Barn, she lived and worked at a Thai Forest monastery for around 5 months which allowed her both to deepen her meditation practice and to incorporate buddhist teachings into her everyday life.

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: Peter Mallard

Teachers at The Barn meditation centre at The Sharpham Trust

Having practised Transcendental and other forms of meditation since 1972, Peter’s Buddhist training began in 1997.

After briefly following a Tibetan path he settled into the emerging Western Insight Tradition. He has engaged in numerous teachings, including the two year Committed Dharma Practitioners Programme, Christina Feldman being his teacher and personal mentor.

Peter believes we each need to relate to the Dharma in a way suited to our individual needs. His own meditation practice is currently 95% off the cushion, naturally integrating into daily life; moment-to-moment awareness and gratitude being two powerful elements.

Peter was manager of the Barn Retreat from 2010 to 2016. You can hear an interview with him about The Barn by the Middle Way Society here, and read his reflections on leaving the Barn here

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 has practised Buddhist meditation since 2005, starting with Soto Zen. Later he moved to the Insight meditation tradition, making Gaia House his spiritual home.

He is currently training to teach the Dharma with Bodhi College, and is being mentored by Christina Feldman and Chris Cullen. He also teaches mindfulness courses and retreats.

Ramiro combines his passion for the Dharma with his love for Philosophy and Psychotherapy. Currently he is training to become a philosophical counsellor.

Teacher: Gavin Milne

Gavin Milne teacher at The Barn retreat centre at Sharpham

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: Professor Katherine Weare

Katherine Weare teacher at The Barn meditation centre at Sharpham

Katherine is Emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter and Southampton. Her background is education, developing approaches to promoting wellbeing and preventing mental health problems for school staff and pupils, including work on CBT/ social and emotional learning in schools.

She became committed to mindfulness when she found it a personal lifesaver during a health crisis and trained to be a mindfulness teacher through the Mindfulness Based Approaches Diploma at the University of Exeter. Since then she has kept in touch with the roots of mindfulness, teaching 8-week courses, receives regular supervision and attends regular silent insight meditation retreats to support her daily practice and is following the advanced Committed Practitioner Programme at the Bodhi College.

She has become internationally-known for her research and development work on mindfulness and compassion for children/young people and those who care for them. Recently she has advised the All Party Parliamentary Group on mindfulness and wellbeing which produced The Mindful Nation policy document recommending the widespread development of evidence-based mindfulness across the UK, and spoke in Parliament on mindfulness in schools.

She contributed to The Mindfulness Summit online as “40 of the world’s leading experts on meditation and mindfulness” . She advises various mindfulness projects such as the Mindfulness in Schools Project, the Plum Village mindfulness community and has published a book with Thich Nhat Hanh on education. She is a member and regular speaker for the Faculty of Mind and Life Europe.

Teacher: Laura Bridgman (Kovida)

Laura Bridgman, teacher at The Barn meditation centre, Sharpham

Kovida ordained as a Siladhara (a 10 Precept Nun) with Ajahn Sumedho in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah in 1995, and she was resident at Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist monasteries for 18 years until she moved out of the monastic setting to live independently as a nun from 2010 until 2015. She has spent extended periods of time with the Burmese Vipassana teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya.

In 2015, Laura left the monastic tradition in order to pursue the Diamond Heart (Ridhwan) Training, which incorporates Buddhist and Sufi principles and practices.

Teacher: Nigel Wellings

Nigel Wellings, meditation teacher at The Barn and at The Sharpham Trust

Nigel Wellings is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author who works within a broadly contemplative perspective. He has been a Director of Training at the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology, a founding member of the Forum for Contemplative Studies and is a teacher on the Bath and Bristol mindfulnesscourses. Publications include Nothing To Lose, Psychotherapy, Buddhism and Living Life, With Buddha In Mind. Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy in Practice in 'Crossroads in Psychoanalysis, Buddhism and Mindfulness' and Why Can’t I Meditate? How to get your mindfulness practice on track. He lives in Bath and Devon.

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