Our staff and some of the volunteers who carry out our essential day-to-day work.
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 overseeing the projects undertaken by our Conservation Team. Staff training and public speaking are also part of his role. David is a BTO ringer, having fitted rings to over a thousand wild Barn Owls, and was principal author of the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook.
Barn Owl conservation is a way of life for David; he’s been fascinated by flight since childhood. When not working, he’s involved in environmental campaigning, DIY, aeromodelling, and song-writing. He also has his own website.
David was awarded an MBE for “Services to wildlife” in the Queens Birthday Honours List in June 2007.
Senior 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 responsible for the day-to-day management of the Trust’s Lennon Legacy Project and our webcams. Matthew is a very keen birdwatcher and as a member of BOT’s conservation team he deals with a wide range of enquiries, as well as specialising in planning and development issues. Matthew played an integral role in the design of our Advanced Training Course for ecologists and delivers a substantial part of the training.
Matthew worked in academic management for over 10 years before deciding on a career change and was previously an English language teacher with a degree in Linguistics from the University of Hull. However, he has since 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 bird ringer. Other interests include all aspects of the natural world, in particular, butterflies and moths, and wild flowers.
Dr Mateo Ruiz
Conservation and Science Officer
Mateo started working at the Barn Owl Trust in January 2018 as P.A. to Head of Conservation/Conservation Assistant. In April 2019 he changed his role and his current post includes a much wider range of activities, including erecting nest boxes, carrying out other practical fieldwork, providing advice on habitat management, population monitoring, educational visits to schools, supporting the Conservation Team with scientific advice, and participating in BOT research projects.
Back in 1987 a teenage Mateo and his family participated in a breeding and release scheme with the Trust, helping to reintroduce a pair of Barn Owls in the Teign Valley. Analysing Barn Owl pellets for his Environmental Studies GCSE project was the start of an ongoing interest in wildlife biology. For his degree he studied the Common Dormouse population on Woodbury Common in Devon and later he spent seven years doing post-graduate research on tropical bird communities in coastal wetlands of Mexico.
Mateo has worked with Friends of the Earth in England and with community-driven conservation projects in Mexico. His interests in the natural world include birds, mammals, reptiles, wild flowers and trees. Mateo lives with his family and enjoys rock climbing and playing the saxophone.
Dr Pip Laker
Assistant Conservation Officer
Pip started working for the Barn Owl Trust in February 2022 . She carries out a number of duties within the conservation team including responding to conservation enquiries, assisting with fieldwork and helping with outreach activities.
Inspired by a love of nature, Pip has spent time researching a range of animals from bumblebees and guppies to dwarf mongooses and pheasants. She has a PhD (in animal behaviour) from the University of Exeter and an MSci in Biology from the University of Bristol. With an ever-growing concern over the climate and ecological crisis we are facing, Pip is incredibly excited to devote her time to protecting the beautiful Barn Owl and its habitat.
In her spare time Pip enjoys walking her rescued ex-racing greyhound around the Devon countryside and beaches, gardening and spending time with friends and family!
Conservation Team Administration Assistant
Kaye began employment with the Trust in May 2019 supporting the Conservation Team with administration tasks. Her role includes organising training courses and taking bookings for talks and guided walks, along with a variety of other responsibilities.
Kaye grew up in the countryside of Dorset, developing a keen interest in nature from a young age which resulted in her moving to Plymouth to complete her degree in Wildlife Conservation. After graduating, she has volunteered and worked in a variety of roles for conservation organisations across the UK and abroad.
In her spare time Kaye enjoys walking, travelling in her self-built camper van, yoga, bird-watching, baking and visiting friends & family.
Gill started working with the Trust at the end of November 2018 and joined the team who look after the charity’s administration. She became Office Manager in July 2021. She lives on the outskirts of Ashburton, deep in the countryside.
Gill has retired from the NHS after a varied 20 year career as a podiatrist, a manager and latterly, a director in Clinical Commissioning. Having left the NHS, Gill trained to be an independent civil celebrant, gaining a diploma in funeral celebrancy. She has been spending her time post-NHS enjoying the opportunities that retirement brings – including learning the art of cloth weaving, tapestry weaving and spinning. All things sheep-y, in fact. She enjoys most things to do with wool and is an avid sock knitter. She also carves in stone and wood, and paints in watercolour and grows vegetables.
Gill hadn’t had much to do with owls until she came to the Trust although she always felt truly privileged when spotting one in the countryside. She has really enjoyed being part of the team and is very pleased to have been given the opportunity to become Office Manager.
Administration / Reception
Marianne (or Maz for short) started volunteering at the Trust for a few hours a week in October 2009 to clean 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 now manages our Friends and Adoption schemes. She also helps out with all our other “admin processes” and occasionally gets out to feed our resident birds.
Maz 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 started working part-time at the Trust in 2009. She looks after our social media and children’s webpages. Vanessa also has a key role in the maintenance and development of our website, providing Content Management System training for colleagues and editing content.
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 and works with her husband, Alan, building and managing websites, including the Barn Owl Trust website. She loves wildlife gardening, drawing and walking on Dartmoor.
Reception / Administrator
Anne-Marie began working with the Trust in August 2021 as an Administrative Assistant; her main duties include dealing with enquiries, working on the Friends and Adoption schemes, helping with fundraising and a vast variety of other admin tasks.
After graduating from University of Plymouth in 2012 with a First-Class honours in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, she decided to move to Malawi where she initially joined LSPCA (a rescue shelter and veterinary clinic) heading up reception, administration as well as managing the rescue shelter. In 2017, Anne-Marie decided to partner with a local vet (Care Vet Clinic) and run a dog training and behaviourist department, which lead to a boarding facility being constructed in 2021.
In 2020, Anne-Marie made the decision to move back to the UK, but due to COVID-19, wasn’t able to physically move back until June 2021. She is enjoying the luxuries that the UK has to offer including Netflix, Spin classes and exploring Dartmoor with her dog, Bentley.
Reception / Administrator
Jess joined the Barn Owl Trust team in October 2021 as an administration assistant to support the current admin team.
Jess has always had a keen interest in wildlife and the outdoors, studying Zoology at the University of Reading and spending a brief period volunteering with the Barn Owl Trust back in 2000. Since then, she spent over 15 years working within the field of Outdoor Education in Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire, before moving back to Devon in 2018.
In her spare time Jess enjoys walking, horse riding and caring for her small flock of Shetland sheep.
Sam began volunteering for the Trust in February 2022, helping out in the office and cleaning the aviaries. She now works part-time for the BOT as our Legacy officer, encouraging people to support Barn Owl conservation, by leaving a legacy or donating in memory.
Sam grew up travelling the world as a Services child, and has had various exciting careers from an Air Traffic Controller to Events Manager and Teacher. She has spent the last 15 years as a Veterinary Nurse in Devon.
Sam loves travelling, reading and walking the moors and has recently helped build her own house. She lives with her family in rural Devon accompanied by her needy cat Neil.
Jasmin started working for the Trust in October 2008 on a short-term contract to build our new Owl Hospital and aviaries. Having completed this project she began work in March 2009 on the construction of our new Mobile Release Aviaries. In July she moved on to a more permanent role – providing Practical Support 2 days a week and building nestboxes. She now manages our nestbox team and tackles a wide range of other practical tasks here at the Trust.
Having previously worked 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 two dogs, Poppy and Biscuit.
Joel worked for the Barn Owl Trust from July 2017 – December 2019 as a Nestbox Builder. He returned for one day a week in September 2021.
He was born in Devon and had a mostly rural upbringing. He was a member of the YOC (young ornithologists club) as a child and is particularly keen on birds of prey. He has spent most of his working life in rural jobs and has developed many practical skills through the years.
He attended a short woodcarving course and would like to pursue that interest in the future. From the age of 20 to 21 years he spent time around a Tibetan Buddhist centre in Scotland helping with improvements on the property and met some very interesting people. He has two passions outside of work…..music and motorcycles. In his spare time he is working on bike projects or riding. He hopes one day to have a small patch of land of his own to live on in a handmade timber home.
Chris joined the Trust in the autumn of 2021. A very practical and hands on person, Chris is enjoying working for the Barn Owl Trust one day a week. He has recently retired from many years working for Western Power Distribution.
Chris is the proud owner of several motorbikes and rather nice cars, and quite likes spending time out on the road in one or other of his vehicles. He also loves the countryside and in his spare time he is happy out walking with Bodger, his Border Terrier. Chris is fond of music and growing things, and is a dab hand at sourdough loaves too!
Aiden moved from Essex to Devon in 2013. During lockdown they decided to retrain in a new area, and are currently completing Furniture Making at college. Aiden is keen to get stuck in with woodwork projects, and is enjoying learning the nestbox building process and getting to know the crew (and owls) at the Trust. In their free time, they love strolling the Devon lanes, seeing the seasons changing, and exploring the moors in their campervan with their wife Billie, and naughty pooch Arla.
Alan started working with the Trust in October 2001. He is a self-employed computer consultant specialising in website and database design. Alan works closely with our staff and Trustees providing computer and website support. He is also responsible for the design, development and maintenance of our amazing database, which holds many thousands of Barn Owl records as well as all our contacts and communication history.
Alan spent 17 years as a Buddhist monk in England, Thailand and Sri Lanka. He developed his core computer skills in monasteries that began using computers in the late ‘80’s to assist their administration. He has a very people-friendly approach to IT and enjoys offering computer support to a wide range of interesting organisations and people in Devon. His websites include Calm IT, Zen Moments, and the Barn Owl Trust website which he built and manages along with his wife, Vanessa and the BOT staff team.
Judith joined the Trust part-time in August 2015. In November 2018 she changed her role from legacy support and increased her hours when she joined the Admin Team. In September 2021, Judith retired but continues to support the Trust by volunteering.
The bonus for Judith is seeing and learning about the owls as she has a passion for birds. She is a keen birder and holds a BTO A permit for bird ringing. This can cause confusion with her other interest of church bell ringing. She is also a keen spinner and knitter working from raw fleece to a finished garment. Judith also enjoys walking with her constant companion – a chocolate Labrador/Pointer called Midge who likes to come to work.
Practical Support Volunteer
Kim started volunteering at the Trust in November 2011. Here for 2 days a week his regular roles include cleaning the aviaries, general ground maintenance, cleaning the Trust’s vehicles and doing odd jobs for both the conservation team and our admin team. Kim also accompanies members of our conservation team on field-work trips whenever an extra pair of hands is needed.
Kim retired from the army in August 2011. With time on his hands he began looking for a volunteer role involving animals and, luckily for us, he responded to a volunteer vacancy we had advertised on the internet. Although Kim has travelled extensively during his army career, he is now very settled in South Devon.
Practical Support Volunteer
Tony started volunteering in March 2015. He is here one or two days a week working alongside fellow volunteers and staff. His regular duties include cleaning aviaries, general DIY and site maintenance, cleaning Trust vehicles and accompanying Trust staff on fieldwork trips to inspect, maintain, and erect owl boxes across south west England.
Tony took early retirement from a 35-year career in the motor industry. Following the sale of his Midlands-based fleet management business in 2013 Tony relocated to Devon in October 2014, and now lives near Dartington. He has a degree in Zoology and a lifelong passion for wildlife especially birds and particularly owls.