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 designing 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. On the rare occasions when he’s not working, he is involved in DIY, microlight flying, and songwriting. David’s songwriting name is ‘Owly Dave’ and he 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.
Rick originally joined the Trust as Assistant Conservation Officer in February 2016. As Conservation Officer his main duties include dealing with conservation enquiries (advising on habitat, rodenticides, planning, and other issues), erecting nest boxes, monitoring Barn Owl sites, leading tasks in the LLP, and acting as our Health & Safety Monitor. He also enjoys giving talks and facilitating educational sessions.
By following his lifelong interest in birds and the natural world Rick pursued a career in nature conservation. Previously he has worked for the National Trust on the Northumberland coast, and spent time as a VSO volunteer working in Protected Areas in the Philippines. Rick grew up in Sheffield, and has lived with his family on Dartmoor for the past 12 years. When not looking through binoculars he enjoys being outdoors cycling and running.
Dr Mateo Ruiz
P.A. to Head of Conservation/Conservation Assistant
Mateo started working at the Barn Owl Trust in January 2018. He works closely with our ‘Head of Conservation’, David. Alongside general office tasks, he organises our training courses, education events, meetings and talks, occasionally gets out of the office to work on the Lennon Legacy land and has a general input in all things conservation. 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 Dunsford area.
Analysing Barn Owl pellets for his Environmental Studies GCSE project was the start of an ongoing interest in wildlife biology. He studied the Common Dormouse population on Woodbury Common in Devon and later spent seven years doing 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 he enjoys rock climbing and playing the saxophone.
Jackie started with the Trust at the beginning of February 2009 as Admin Officer working 3 days a week prior to taking on the role of Office Manager. She has obtained 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 the UK. She has spent most of her working life in 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 cats, reads, knits and socialises.
Administration Assistant / 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 is dealing with 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.
Administration Assistant / Reception
Pete started work here in April 2003 as our first full-time member of the admin team. In March 2014 he semi-retired and now works three days a week. Pete answers the phone and helps with internet sales and the Trust’s internal recycling scheme. One day a week he is out and about, collecting and delivering things or representing the Trust at local events. He also deals with anyone wanting to provide a home for one of our donation boxes.
Most of Pete’s 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 and then worked at Totnes Tourist Information Centre before joining us. Pete originally came to Devon in 1973 to attend Exeter Art College. He and his wife Viv then moved to Ashburton in 1974. They have 4 children and 7 grandchildren. In his spare time Pete walks, runs and cycles. He also enjoys research and writing (mainly about local history, which is another interest), as well as photography, painting and reading.
Reception / Administrator
Aaron joined the Trust in March 2015. He answers the telephone, emails and postal queries and helps to maintain our Friends and Adoption schemes. He also helps with all our other “admin processes” and works on our publications including Feedback and Owl-e-news.
He originates from Fowey in Cornwall and moved to Devon 8 years ago. He has a keen interest in wildlife and is an avid wild swimmer and, with friends, is working on a new book on the topic. He takes every opportunity to enjoy the glorious Devon coast and countryside. He is a keen singer and has performed alongside Jo, who used to work at the Trust, in musicals in the local area.
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 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 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, including the Barn Owl Trust website. She loves yoga, drawing and walking in nature.
Judith joined the Trust part-time in August 2015. Her role is to contact solicitors and other organisations to ask them to display our legacy leaflets and promote this important aspect of the Trust’s income. Having spent many years and still continuing to do so, as a barristers’ clerk she is used to the legal world and its quirks!
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.
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. She builds virtually all our nestboxes 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, and a cat called Manny.
Practical Support Assistant
Joel started working for the Trust one day a week in July 2017, in September 17 his working days were increased to two to help with the increasing demand for our nestboxes.
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.
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.
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.