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: Charlie Ivermee

Become a volunteer at The Barn at The Sharpham Trust

Charlie Ivermee has been a retreatant at The Barn many times. Now he's joined us as a Volunteer Coordinator.

After many years of exploration through counselling and psychotherapy, both as client and practitioner Charlie came to mindfulness in 2016 - and has had a regular practice since.

“I am particularly energised by how meditation and The Buddha’s teachings can enhance our daily lives," he said.

"I also have a deep interest in the process of ageing and in how we can make that a joyful and rewarding process.”

In his role as a Voluntary Coordinator, Charlie brings to The Barn his cheerful energy, his emotional intelligence and 74 years of living.

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: 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: Shahin Popple

Shahin Popple, teacher at The Barn meditation centre, Sharpham

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 trainer for many years.

Teacher: Ethan Pollock

Ethan Pollock, teacher at The Barn meditation centre, Sharpham

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.

Ethan 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.

Teacher: Lucy Chan

Lucy Chan, teacher at The Barn meditation centre, Sharpham

Lucy is a mindfulness and self-compassion teacher who leads retreats across the UK. She's also a former Volunteer Coordinator at The Barn.

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.

She is a teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) having trained directly under the internationally-renowned pioneers of this field; Kristin Neff and Chris Germer.

Her passions include helping people engage with self-compassion practices as a way to build inner resilience, and supporting the caregivers of society.

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: Programme Administrator
Tel: 01803 732542
Email: [email protected]
Address: Sharpham Trust, West Wing Office, Ashprington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 7UT