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 which he accepted on behalf of the Trust.
Dr Mateo Ruiz
Senior 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
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!
Assistant Conservation Officer
Tim started working two days a week at the Trust in February 2023. He has a varied role within the conservation team including nestbox erection, camera installation, habitat advice and conservation enquiries.
He also currently works part time as a Consultant Conservation Officer with South Devon Nature Trust and is South Devon & Dartmoor Volunteer Reserves Warden with Devon Wildlife Trust.
Tim is also a tree surgeon, timber building specialist, musician, birder, bee keeper and owner of 2 hairy hounds.
Josh started working for the Barn Owl Trust in September 2023. He carries out a number of tasks including handling email and telephone enquiries, helping with fieldwork as well as engagement with members of the public and landowners.
After gaining a degree in Zoology at the University of Sheffield Josh has pursued a career in conservation working with the RSPB in the New Forest, assisting with a Little Tern colony in North Wales before spending time working on the Dorset heaths with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.
Josh is very concerned about the state of nature decline we are observing in the UK and wants to use his passion to promote conservation particularly across our farmed environments. Being able to protect the Barn Owl, its environment and supporting the multitude of other species and ecosystem services this brings is a very exciting prospect.
In his spare time Josh is excited to walk the heights of Dartmoor (after growing up in very flat Norfolk), wild swim in the beautiful rivers and get lost exploring the temperate rainforests.
Assistant Conservation Officer
Kate started working with the Barn Owl Trust in November 2023 and is part of the Conservation Team carrying out a wide variety of tasks including enquiries and helping with fieldwork.
Kate lives in a ‘tiny home’ on an organic farm that produces vegetables for Riverford. She spent the years before the Barn Owl Trust working on the farm – planting, hand weeding and harvesting the veggies and continues to help out in her spare time. She has had a varied career so far and tried out lots of industries, from radio production to cafe management, before landing a job guiding on glaciers in rural Iceland. It was an amazing experience but seeing the obvious effects of climate change first hand made it clear that she wanted to direct her life towards making more of a difference.
Since Iceland, Kate has spent time volunteering for local conservation projects, such as at the Devon Wildlife Trust and Wild Devon, before finding her dream conservation job at the Barn Owl Trust. Kate believes in the importance of conservation work, especially protecting habitats and species in decline as a result of human activity. She hadn’t actually seen a Barn Owl properly before moving onto the farm where she is now lucky enough to be able to watch one forage regularly from her kitchen window!
Kate thinks Devon is the best county and loves being out on Dartmoor or the coast path, walking and swimming, or staying in the van outside a cosy pub.
Administrator and Digital Media Officer
Kaye began employment with the Trust in May 2019 as the Conservation Team Admin Assistant. Her role now includes developing and maintaining the online training courses, assisting with bookkeeping and supporting the Conservation and the Management Team with general administration tasks.
Kaye grew up in the countryside of Dorset and developed a keen interest in nature from a young age, which resulted in her moving to Plymouth to complete a 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 with her partner and their two rescue dogs, travelling in her camper van, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and yoga.
Harry began work at the Barn Owl Trust in July 2022 as our first ever intern. In October 2023 having completed his internship he became our Reserve and Volunteer Coordinator. His job is to look after our nature reserve (the LLP) and recruit volunteers to help. Back in 2016 when he was just 14, Harry did a week’s work experience here and has been a volunteer ever since helping out with tasks including Bracken control, aviary cleaning, pond clearing, and Dormouse surveys.
He went on to study at Bangor University for a degree in Conservation with Forestry. As an intern, he’s being given the training and opportunities to broaden his knowledge and learn new skills such as chainsaw and brush-cutter operation, hedge laying, wildlife identification, first aid and much more. He also coordinates our volunteers and leading them in conservation and land management tasks. In his spare time, Harry enjoys wild camping and hiking around Snowdonia National Park and Dartmoor National Park along with walking his border collie Maud.
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 accounts 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.
Administrator / Education work
Jess joined the Barn Owl Trust team in October 2021 as an administration assistant and deals with enquiries, the Friends and Adoption schemes, and a vast variety of other admin tasks. She is also involved with our education work.
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.
Legacy Officer / Fundraiser
Sam started working at the Trust in February 2022 as a Volunteer helping in the office and cleaning out the aviaries. She now works part time as our Legacy Officer, Fundraising Administrator and Admin Assistant.
Sam started her career in the RAF as an Air Traffic Controller and on leaving the Forces, she became an Exhibition and Conference Manager all around the UK. After moving to Devon in the late 90’s she enrolled on a new career as a Veterinary Nurse spending time in Africa working with Bush Vets and then working in Devon for over 15 years as well as raising her family.
Being a country girl, Sam has always had a passion for animals and nature and can often be found roaming the moors on long walks and finding new places to explore in the West Country as well as travelling as much as she can with her family. She lives in a house that she and her family builtand she enjoys hiking, reading, travelling, baking and spending time in her very under-utilised garden.
Reception / Administrator
Lucy joined the admin team for two days a week in April 2023. She helps out with the phones and email enquiries, works on the Friends and Adoption schemes and is involved in a vast variety of other admin tasks.
A lifelong lover of nature and the countryside Lucy lives ‘out in the sticks’ not far from the Trust, with her husband and various dogs and horses. Since her horse was retired Lucy has a newfound hobby of agility with her lurcher Rew and spends sunny days in the greenhouse or losing the battle with her fast-growing garden. She has recently started bird watching with a friend and the BTO.
Maintenance and Production Manager
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!
Emily joined the Trust in March 2022 working one day a week. She helps build and felt our nestboxes and has also been introduced to pyrography and has used this new skill on our ‘Wheel of Wildlife’ and leaves for our Memory Tree.
After attending a women’s carpentry class she realised how much she enjoyed working with wood and building things and was keen to join our team, hone her skills and help conserve Barn Owls. Originally from Virginia, she has been living, creating and raising her three kids in Devon for the last 25 years. A working and gigging musician, she’s just started a new band with her son and enjoys going out gigging all over the Southwest. Her Historical Street Art work can be found all over Ashburton’s walls and further afield. She is currently working as a portrait artist of both people and dogs, and in the winter she runs her sustainable rental Christmas tree business from her land on Dartmoor. When she’s not creating, singing or mothering she can be found out on a walk with her colliepoo, often practising Shinrin Yoku and embracing nature.
Aiden joined the nestbox team in July 2022 having 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, Switzerland, 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.
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.