Tell us a bit about yourself I came to the North East in 1980 to study mathematics at Durham University and became totally hooked on the region, moving to Newcastle in 1989 and have lived here ever since. It’s definitely the best part of the UK!
There was a time when my life lacked purpose, but then I encountered Jesus through hearing a talk about his life, death and resurrection one evening at a Christian meeting, and decided to follow him. Caring for people on the margins is at the centre of this. I really enjoy the tremendously enriching experience of building friendships with people from different cultures and getting to know and love their sense of humour, food, music, dancing, history and way of life.
What motivates you as a Trustee? In my role as Chair, I’m keen that we remain true to our initial motivation of showing unconditional care to people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants, empowering them to thrive in the UK. I’m also keen that we continue to diversify at every level of the organisation.
How do you relax? I love playing, watching and talking about sport with my three sons, playing the piano, going for walks and cooking with my wife Jill, as well as reading history.
Tell us a bit about yourself Teaching has been my vocation for over 30 years, beginning in the country of my birth, South Africa and I’m now Principal of Grace College in Gateshead.
Big questions have always featured in my thinking. I was gripped by nature conservation as a youngster; how do we save the white rhino and why are we so greedy?! Of course, living in Johannesburg meant weekends camping in the bush and this fuelled a passion to study Biology at Wits University. But university was much more than just reading and experimenting, I wondered what life ought to be and could be for all…especially considering the inequalities of apartheid.
After the birth of our two daughters, the opportunity to work abroad and travel the world was really enticing so we moved to Norwich where we enjoyed the Norfolk broads and the genteel life of East Anglia! In 2008 we moved further north to Gateshead and now live within an evening’s short run of the Angel of the North. This is home, where we ‘hang our pictures’ and now enjoy the warm acceptance of the Geordies!
What motivates you as a Trustee? I became a Trustee of Action Foundation in 2018 because I knew it to be an organisation that values every individual and offers unconditional support to some of the most marginalised in our society. I welcome the opportunity to use my educational and leadership skills and cross-cultural experiences to ensure we deliver on our commitments to providing services and support that enhance personal dignity and agency – good quality housing, English language learning and community building.
How do you relax? I enjoy keeping fit and in 2022 I completed the Great North Run in aid of Action Foundation.
Tell us a bit about yourself I have almost three decades of experience in the non-profit sector, in staff and volunteer roles and in two countries. My studies included history, languages and law.
I came to Newcastle in 2000 to lead the umbrella organisation of an international non-profit — through its unique peace education programmes, CISV educates and inspires action for a more just and peaceful world. I am now Chief Executive of the Institute of Water, which supports the development of people working in the UK water sector, enabling members to reach their full potential to drive the sector forward.
What motivates you as a Trustee? Born and bred in Toronto, I grew up in a multicultural environment, shaped by immigrants and refugees from around the world.
The shared values and commitment that brought Action Foundation into being resonate deeply for me. I have been part of numerous multi-faith advocacy and action initiatives to address key social justice issues.
As an adopted Geordie I have put down roots in Newcastle and am happy to support and empower newcomers to this wonderful community. It takes proactive and community engagement to move from diversity to inclusion and belonging.
How do you relax? Along with my volunteer work, I love to spend time with family, participate in courses and development opportunities and am part of a lively wine group!
Tell us a bit about yourself Ever since I arrived in the UK in 2002 I have been fascinated by people’s experience of migration. This led to my research over the last 15 years into displaced people and their lives here. I had the privilege to support the Syrian Refugees Community in the North East and was presented with the BBC Look North ‘Angel of the North’ award for my work. My academic background means I have long been interested in the centrality of language skills to integration into British and European societies, supported by proper training of teachers and appropriate use of technology. I see language as fundamental to empowerment and intercultural understanding and obviously that’s a big part of Action Foundation’s vision too.
What motivates you as a Trustee? I had already worked closely with Action Foundation over many years and what impressed me was the practical focus on making a difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities. Action Foundation’s culture and values were also a brilliant fit with my own and so when the opportunity came along to join the Board, it was an easy decision.
How do you relax? I have two wonderful children who are a never-ending source of amusement and occasional challenge and am also very close to my wider family. I love to swim and have always had a passion for reading – fiction and non-fiction and books on nature and personal development. I love good food and cooking for friends and family.
Tell us a bit about yourself I was born in Gosforth and pursued a career in finance. I’ve been involved in the charity since the early days when I met our founder Julian Prior at a dinner and ended up doing some language teaching. It was my first experience of working with refugees and I enjoyed it so much that when I was asked to join the Board it was an easy decision.
What motivates you as a Trustee? I loved the Christian ethos underpinning Action Foundation with the commitment to help those who are most vulnerable, bringing people on the margins of society into the centre. In my role as Treasurer, I have a particular responsibility to help ensure we are financially sound, since this underpins our capacity to demonstrate practical compassion and help towards refugees and asylum seekers.
How do you relax? My work with Tyne Tunnel keeps me busy and I’m a youth worker at my local church. The regular interaction with young people is very rewarding and certainly keeps me young! I also take every opportunity to get out into the great outdoors, particularly for cycling and fell walking.