The Gaia House service community

Click here to find out about joining our residential service community.
Click here to check for current vacancies in our non-residential team.

Our current residential service community members are:


Hannah, Toby, Elaine and Stuart
(Nimrod in the middle of this picture has just left us and we have temporary help from Jake and Caroline ).






 Devin Ashwood – Director

“After an early life that gave me first-hand experience of substance misuse and poverty, I’ve been motivated to overcome life’s challenges to become a person who feels able to support others. After establishing a regular meditation practice, I first came to Gaia House in 2000 and have enjoyed returning regularly for renewal and inspiration since.  I began working and developing projects in human rights and environmental organisations before extending into therapeutic, educational, Buddhist and secular mindfulness settings, spending considerable time practicing and teaching in prisons and addiction treatment services. I live with my wife and children a short cycle ride away in Ogwell.”

Owen BarnettOwen Barnett – Finance Assistant

“After two spells as Kitchen Coordinator in 2009-11 and 2013-14 I’ve now made the transition to the non-residential staff team where I help with the running of the Finance Department. Having lived at Gaia House for three years as a coordinator and spent many months on retreat in the Hermitage, coming to work here each day still feels like going home.”

Tracy Kewell – Finance Assistant

“I joined Gaia House in 2010 after seeking work to supplement my employment at the local primary school. Having previously worked in a monastic environment, I was intrigued to find out more about the workings of Gaia House. The staff were very welcoming and it has been a pleasure getting to know the team. I live in Newton Abbot with my family and appreciate ‘to the full’ the peace and quiet Gaia House offers. In my spare time you might find me at the theatre or on the stage as I have a passion for amateur dramatics.”

Iain FraserIain Fraser – Maintenance Manager

“I started working at Gaia House at the end of 2004. Apart from looking after the buildings, gardens & grounds, I am also a keen local historian, so combining all of these elements suits me well. The house has seen many occupants over the centuries, and had many structural changes, so what we have here now is often quite a challenge in terms of upkeep & maintenance! I love the setting here amidst the peaceful countryside and I live nearby with my family.”

Richard RendleRichard Rendle – Building Engineer

“I was called in to Gaia House in 2006 to fix a leaking tap and I am still here! I help with the general maintenance of the house and advise on building projects. Since working here I have developed an interest in meditation and Buddhism, which I really feel has really benefited me and my family. I live locally in Highweek with my 2 boys, a dog, 3 cats and 11 chickens!”

Laura Bridgman – Staff Support Teacher
“I first came across the Buddha’s teaching at 14, through seeing a documentary on Tibetan Buddhism that struck a deep chord, and then voraciously read any books on Dharma I could get hold of. In my late teens I joined the Cambridge Buddhist Society and through meeting Theravada monks there, I eventually ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1995 in that tradition, practising in monasteries in the UK as well as Myanmar. In 2015 I disrobed, and I currently follow the Diamond Heart (Ridhwan) spiritual path alongside my Vipassana practice.”
Rachel DaviesRachel Davies – Project Developer

“I first worked at Gaia House as a Volunteer Coordinator in reception between 2005 and 2006, and came back as Retreat Manager at the start of August 2008. I left to have my daughter after 5 and a half years of service in this role. Now I have returned from maternity leave I am working on developing Outreach opportunities, a very exciting prospect. It is a joy to work with such a committed team of staff, Coordinators and volunteers in the service of something so precious. I live nearby and look forward to the possibility of doing another retreat at some point when my daughter is old enough!”

Sarah AbdySarah Abdy – HR & Administration Manager, including looking after our Reception department

“I joined the Gaia House family in April 2004 as PA to the Executive Director. The changes in technology and the need for development changed my role and in November 2006 I became Administration Manager. I thoroughly enjoy working at Gaia House, ensuring that the reception department and numerous systems, processes and databases support those that work and serve here. It is an amazing place to work with amazing people. I live just outside Totnes with my family and my border terrier Hamish!”

Anne Cockcroft – Online Support Coordinator

“After coming to Gaia House on retreat, I felt moved to offer service and became a volunteer coordinator in 2016. I was here for two years, moving from a Maintenance to a Reception role. I loved living in a practice setting, being in community and offering service, and it was with some reluctance that I moved on in summer 2018. I spent a precious period of time last year, living and coordinating at The Barn retreat centre and I was then delighted to have the opportunity to come back to Gaia and work supporting the non-residential staff team. I feel blessed to be back in this beautiful place that provides a refuge for those who come here.”

Hannah SeyfertHannah Seyfert – Communications Manager (currently on maternity leave)

“I moved down to Devon from London in 2012 and when I spotted the Communications Manager job advert it felt like a calling. I joined in May 2015 and feel blessed to be part of the Gaia House community. It’s a privilege to be able to contribute my skills and experience to what feels like an incredibly meaningful endeavour, and to work and practise alongside such a warm, open and dedicated group of people.”

Elena de Paz – Communications Manager

“In 2012 I came on a retreat at Gaia House for the first time and two years later I found myself drawn to apply to be a residential coordinator. Since then I have kept coming back to offer service in different shapes and forms. It’s always been a joy to work with others that share similar values and to know our work supports those that want to deepen their understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. I am now taking care of the communications again (I did so for a year in 2018) and I look forward to seeing what this new chapter brings.”

Faith BurchFaith Burch – Dharma Talks Administrator

“After finishing a term as volunteer Kitchen Coordinator in 2002 I decided to settle near Totnes in Devon, and since then I have relished living in a small, lively, creative, friendly community with a strong sangha so close to Dartmoor and the sea. Then in 2006 I was offered the role of running Gaia House Dharma Talks which I have enjoyed doing ever since. The benefits of coming to Gaia House on retreat over the years for me have been huge, and I feel fortunate to be part of the warm and committed team who continue to offer that to others.”

Richard ReidRichard Reid – Kitchen Supervisor

“I first came to Gaia House on a three month work retreat in 2005 and immediately fell in love. I began as Kitchen Coordinator in 2006, Maintenance Coordinator in 2008 and then settled in the local area. In 2014 I returned to cook twice per week and am now the Kitchen Supervisor. It is a real joy to come to work at Gaia House and be a small cog in the wheel of Dharma unfolding in the west. Outside of Gaia House I help run Freely Given Retreats, am studying towards a degree in Environmental Science and have recently become a father to a beautiful baby girl.”

Melanie Stephens – IT Support Officer

“My IT background varies from administrative roles, teaching IT in adult education and working as a technician. Working at Gaia House I have found a wonderful supportive staff team and a work place which strives to ensure that their daily duties and needs reflect consideration to the environment and ethical issues, which I really value. I enjoy meeting the many people who visit Gaia House and join us online and working within a warm, friendly community”.

Alan LewisAlan Lewis – Freelance IT support

“I spent 17 years as a Buddhist monk in England, Thailand and Sri Lanka. I began developing my computer skills in monasteries to assist with administration. I’ve been running a successful IT Support business since 2001, providing PC-based IT Support to self-employed people and small businesses in the South Devon area of the UK. My web-sites include Calm IT Zen Moments, and the Gaia House website which I built and manage along with my wife, Vanessa.
I also occasionally teach at Gaia House and local meditation groups.”

  Suzanne Ruffles – Team Support Officer
“I joined Gaia House in 2021 after several years of living and working in London. Following the urge to be closer to nature, I moved back to Devon where I grew up, with a new appreciation of the stunning coastline and moors on our doorstep. I’ve spent many years travelling throughout India, South America, East Asia and Europe, as well as studying and observing human psychology, culture and spiritual practices. I love the tranquil environment Gaia House provides and working with a community of like minded people.”

Carlo Douglas – Administration / Reception Support


Lindsay Thompson – Administration / Reception Support

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