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The Barn Owl Trust

Conserving the Barn Owl and its Environment

Watch us on Youtube Follow us on Twitter Join us on Facebook Live Barnowl webcam direct from a barnowl nestbox at our Owl Sanctuary

About the Trust

Staff & Volunteers


Meet our staff and some of our volunteers who carry out the essential day-to-day work of the organisation.

David 2008

David Ramsden MBE

Head of Conservation

David has been employed by the Trust since 1990; he is responsible for managing the Trust's conservation, educational and research work and designing the projects that the Trust undertakes. Staff training and public speaking are also part of his role. He is a BTO ringer and has fitted rings to over a thousand wild Barn Owls.

Barn Owl conservation is a way of life for David; he's been fascinated by flight since he was a child. On the rare occasions when he's not working he is involved in DIY, microlight flying, and songwriting.

David was awarded an MBE for "Services to wildlife" in the Queens Birthday Honours List in June 2007.

Matthew Twiggs

Matthew Twiggs

Conservation Officer

Matthew started at the Trust in February 2007. In addition to advisory and practical conservation work on farms across Devon and Cornwall, he is responsble for the day-to-day management of the Trust's Lennon Legacy Project, our webcams and progressing BOT research projects. Matthew is a very keen birdwatcher and as a member of BOT’s conservation team he deals with a wide range of enquiries including planning and development cases.

Matthew worked in academic management for over ten years before deciding on a career change and was previously a trained EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher with a degree in Linguistics from the University of Hull. However, he has recently completed an MSc. in Countryside Conservation and Management through the University of the West of England, Bristol. As well as birding, he is a BTO-licensed bird ringer. Other interests include all aspects of the natural world, in particular, butterflies and moths, and wild flowers. He also enjoys drawing and long-distance running.

Stuart Baker

Stuart Baker

Assistant Conservation Officer

Stuart first came to the Trust between March 2009 and May 2011 to work on the Westmoor Barn Owl Scheme. He returned in September 2011 for a three-month temporary contract and stayed on in a core post as an Assistant Conservation Officer. He is responsible for our live owl emergency service and also helps care for the casualty and resident owls here at the Trust. His other roles include Health & Safety and practical conservation work and dealing with enquiries. In 2012 he will also take on school visits.

He grew up in Northampton and moved to Devon in 2008 after graduating from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge with a zoology degree. He has always had a keen interest in animals of all types and shares his home with two lizards, ten snakes of various species, and assorted invertebrates including a scorpion, a giant centipede and about thirty tarantulas. He enjoys exploring the West Country.

Jo Plant

Jo Plant

PA to Head of Conservation

Jo began working at the Trust in June 2014. Her main role is as David's P.A and alongside general office tasks she organises training courses, education events, meetings and talks. Another part of her role is telling the "Wings of Change" story to children at schools and youth groups.

Jo grew up in the countryside of Leicestershire, which inspired her love for animals. She completed a degree in Zoology at the University of Manchester in 2010 and before coming to the Trust had been working in various roles in zoos. She is in the process of completing a Masters in Anthrozoology through the University of Exeter, as it is the relationship between humans and animals that really fascinates her. During her undergraduate degree, she carried out a year-long research internship at Paignton Zoo and fell in love with the area. She returned to Devon permanently in November 2012 to be with her partner. Never one to sit still, Jo performs in musicals, is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and enjoys cross stitching and baking in her "spare" time.

Jackie Atkinson

Jackie Atkinson

Office Manager

Jackie started with the Trust at the beginning of February 2009 as Admin Officer working three days a week prior to taking on the role of Office Manager. She wanted to obtain an overview of the various administration tasks undertaken by the Trust so that she can offer help and support to other members of staff.

Jackie was born and raised in South Devon, loves the seaside and the moors and cannot imagine living anywhere else in this country. She has spent most of her working life within Solicitors' offices starting as a Secretary then ultimately as an Office Administrator, only branching out into other areas in 2005 to work in smaller, more personal environments. In her spare time she likes to get out in the fresh air, travel, walk and swim in the sea (although not in this country “it's too cold”). During the winter months she spends time with her cat, reads, knits and socialises.

staff pete reception

Pete Webb

Administration Assistant / Reception

Pete started work here in April 2003 as the first full-time admin assistant. He answers the phone and is responsible for the Internet sales, Trust's recycling, and he also deals with anyone wanting to provide a home for a BOT donation box. Since March 2014 he now works part-time with one day a week "out and about" representing the Trust.

Most of his working background was in service industries, including coal mining, engineering, as a self-employed shopkeeper and later as a cleaning contractor. He was manager at Ashburton Information Centre for over 4 years until he was made redundant, and then worked at Totnes Tourist Information Centre until coming here. Pete moved to Devon in 1973 to attend Exeter Art College. He moved to Ashburton in 1974 and with his wife Viv, have 4 children and 7 grandchildren. In his spare time he walks, runs and cycles. He also enjoys researching and writing (mainly about local history), photography, painting and reading.

Maz Bryan

Maz Bryan

Administration Assistant / Reception

Marianne (or Maz for short) started volunteering at the Trust for a few hours a week in October 2009 to clean the aviaries. Having spotted her potential, she was recruited as a Receptionist and Admin Assistant in November. Maz answers the telephone, email and postal queries and is dealing with our Friends and Adoption schemes. She also helps out with all our other “admin processes” and occasionally, still gets out to clean the aviaries.

She spent her childhood in Devon before moving up north to study Philosophy at York University in 2003. After graduating she worked as an Admin Assistant in the buying department of a large fair-trade wholesaler and retailer - Shared Earth, until the fresh West Country sea air pulled her back home in September 2009. Maz has always been passionate about animals and wildlife, she has always loved Owls so feels very privileged to be working here. In April 2008 she spent 10 weeks volunteering with a conservation organisation in Nicaragua monitoring Bats, Butterflies and Birds, as well as attempting to climb volcanoes! In her spare time she likes going to the cinema, gigs and festivals, reading, walking, knitting, listening to music, visiting friends and Morris dancing.

Vanessa Owen

Vanessa Lewis

Admin Assistant

Vanessa started working part-time at the Trust in 2009. She looks after our social media and is helping to develop the website and our educational resources for children, including the 'Flyer' leaflet for Owlets - junior Friends of the Barn Owl Trust

Vanessa describes herself as an 'escaped teacher' having moved to Devon from the West Midlands where she taught Art in comprehensive schools and to teenagers excluded from school. Vanessa has two grown sons. Alongside working for the Barn Owl Trust, she is also self-employed as a web presence developer for local small businesses and works with her husband, Alan, building and managing websites, such as Zen Moments.org - a joint project. She loves yoga, drawing, singing in a choir and walking in nature.

Karn Smerdon

Karen Smerdon

Admin Assistant

Karen started working here one day a week in January 2011. Her role is to continue the distribution of Trust legacy leaflets to solicitors by talking to their offices and sending out our legacy leaflet packs, hopefully raising the potential for increased funding from that area.

Her previous work experience was mainly retail, working in supermarkets, for a bank and a fruit and vegetable shop. She enjoys a healthy diet and exercise and has travelled extensively – including most of Europe, Dubai, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Tunisia and Cyprus.

Jasmin Ramsden

Jasmin Ramsden

Practical Support

Jasmin started working for the Trust in October 2008 on a short-term contract to build our new Owl Hospital facilities and aviaries. Having completed this project she began work in March 2009 on our new mobile aviary. In July she moved on to a more permanent role - two days a week as practical support. She now builds all our nestboxes and tackles a wide range of other practical tasks here at the Trust.

Having previously been working as a chef, Jasmin decided on a career change to make use of her extensive DIY skills. In her free time she writes and plays music and in 2010 she recorded her first CD. She likes to be outside in the natural world and has one cat, and one dog- Manny and Poppy.

Alan Lewis

Alan Lewis

IT Support

Alan started working with the Trust in October 2001. He is a self-employed computer consultant and website & database designer. He works closely with the staff and trustees offering computer and website support. He is also responsible for developing our extensive database, which enables us to record and monitor our work.

He spent 17 years as a Buddhist monk in England, Thailand and Sri Lanka and developed his core computer skills in the monasteries, which started using computers in the late ‘80's to assist with their administration. He has a people-friendly approach to IT and enjoys offering computer support to a wide range of interesting organisations and people in Devon. His web-sites include Calm IT and Zen Moments, which he manages along with his wife, Vanessa.

Kim Baker

Kim Baker

Practical Support Volunteer

Kim started volunteering at the Trust in November 2011. Here for two days a week his regular role includes cleaning the aviaries, general ground maintenance, cleaning the Trust vehicles and doing odd jobs for the team. He also accompanies members of the conservation team on field-work when they need an extra pair of hands.

Kim retired from the Army in August 2011 and with time on his hands was looking for a volunteer role with animals. Having seen our vacancy on the internet, he contacted the Trust. Kim travelled extensively with the army, he and his wife have now settled in South Devon.

The Barn Owl Trust is dedicated to conservation & education and does not operate a visitor centre.
Barn Owl Trust staff and volunteers
Waterleat, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7HU
+44 (0) 1364 653026