New faces at the Barn

17th September, 2020
by Julian | 3 Min Read
Share with friends

The Barn has some new people on the team!

Two of our three new Volunteer Coordinators at The Barn first came to us as retreatants.

Will Evans and Abbie Swift first stayed on the Sharpham Estate on retreat - and now they'll be helping others with their retreating.

Will has stayed on retreat in Sharpham House and Woodland and The Barn. He also participated in a mindfulness teacher training course at Sharpham House with one of our partner organisations.

As a subscriber to our mailing list, he saw when The Barn advertised for Volunteer Coordinators and got in touch, keen to switch away from his work as a freelance web developer in Bristol to try something new. He arrived in July.

"I moved down two weeks after getting that email, put my stuff in storage and arrived!" he said.

Will has been meditating since he was a teenager, then on and off during his 20s, but in the last 8 years he's had a daily practice. Over the last 4 years, he's been on many retreats, exploring a variety of different meditation traditions without embedding himself in a particular approach. He has held space on an online retreat during lockdown and is looking forward to assisting on The Barn's in-person retreats.

"The team at The Barn are super-supportive," he said. "I feel quite relaxed about it, even though I know it's going to be a lot of work with the Covid restrictions. But I really hope people will be able to get a lot out of the retreats at this time."

As to his new home for the next two months, Will's happy to be near the River Dart and on the Estate. "I've been swimming in the river two or three times a week since I got here and going on lots of walks. It's just incredibly peaceful here," he said.

Abbie Swift joins us from just along the A38 in Exeter. She too experienced Sharpham first as a retreatant, taking part in a Mindfulness for Beginners retreat in Sharpham House several years ago, at The Barn and also on the first ever Retreat at Home from The Barn.

Her practice helped sustain her in her work in mental health in the NHS. She said: "I found it incredibly useful and after Covid arrived it just made me think that I needed some time find a balance between giving to others and myself - which I've been struggling with for a few years."

Abbie is taking a sabbatical from her post to give service at The Barn - although she is interested professionally in how mindfulness can be applied to the people she works with.

"I'm sort of looking forward to the challenge of working with Covid restrictions," she said. "and I've got a lot of ideas about how we have to do things differently, but how we can do that creatively - with the outdoor spaces for example."

"Plus the onset of Autumn and the change in the seasons feels exciting, like it's the right time to be trying something different."

Another Barn Coordinator, Nadia, will be joining us in a couple of weeks, moving from her home town of Milton Keynes.