A brighter future for children and young people in Darjeeling

OUR PEOPLE

Graham Cory, Chair of Trustees

Starting in the Royal Marines, and later armed with a degree in Education and Music, Graham’s career has embraced 17 years in the civil service and 20 years variously as charity CEO or Trustee, with time off mid-way to complete a PhD at Durham. It was inevitable that a business trip to India should have enamoured him with the country’s rich culture and limitless possibilities — possibilities which he hopes to be able to extend, by contributing to DCT’s work, to even more young people in Darjeeling.

In such spare time he has, Graham enjoys long-distance walking, reading history and listening to music, especially that of Max Reger.


Matthew Houghton, Trustee & Treasurer

Matthew joined the board of trustees in April 2023. He is a chartered accountant and has worked in a variety of companies specialising in statutory reporting and financial control.  He graduated from Cambridge University and also has a postgraduate certificate in education. He first visited India on a work assignment and has since returned to explore more of the country. Matthew has four daughters whose grandparents emigrated from India to the UK. He hopes to emigrate from the UK to India!


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Hugh Heron, Trustee

Hugh was born in Scotland, and currently lives in Yorkshire. After selling his shares in the financial planning business he started when he was 25 years old, he decided to take a TEFL course. He headed out to Darjeeling to share his new found teaching skills and has never looked back, becoming a trustee in 2009. Hugh is organiser in chief of the annual Darjeeling Cup golf event, and he hopes to maintain his annual visits to Darjeeling in the future. In his spare time, Hugh enjoys badminton, cycling, trekking, and of course regular trips to his homeland!


Jennifer Owen, Trustee

Jennifer joined the board of trustees in 2023, having been a supporter of Darjeeling Children’s Trust for many years. She has worked in education her entire career, after receiving a BSc & PhD in Chemistry from Manchester University. Her first post was in Kisii, Kenya, under the auspices of Voluntary Services Overseas, which ignited a lifelong passion for Africa. She continued working as a teacher in the UK and California, before adding teacher training to her role. Jennifer & her husband left their positions in the UK and moved to Tanzania to work for an NGO, where she trained teachers & managed school administration. They have now returned to the UK and spend their time travelling as much as possible. Jennifer is also a school governor. She enjoys walking as well as playing the viola in a local orchestra.


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Marilyn Adams, Trustee

Marilyn co-founded the Trust with Sharan Patel in February 2008 and, as Chairperson from its inception until January 2020, she grew and led the Trust through many great successes and achievements. She received her undergraduate degree from London University and then trained as town planner at Aston University. Now retired after many years working in local government, she originally visited Darjeeling in 2007 as a volunteer teacher at a municipal primary school. She has returned to Darjeeling many times since that first visit. In her spare time she enjoys photography, walking, cycling and travel.


Matthew Morpurgo, Trustee

Matthew joined the board of trustees in 2023, alongside his wife Jennifer. Matthew is excited to become more involved in the vocational training and careers programme. Matthew has worked for twenty plus years for large global corporations, controlling their sales and forecasting computer systems. He decided to have a career and country change and moved with his wife to a rural area in Tanzania. He worked for a NGO running the school office, co-ordinating the overseas volunteers and assisting in classes. He has since returned to the UK and enjoys travelling as much as possible, walking and watching rugby. He is delighted to able to work alongside the other trustees of Darjeeling Children’s Trust.


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Major Pasang Wangdi, Trustee

Major Wangdi grew up in Darjeeling, and attended St. Joseph’s College. When he was twenty one years old, he joined the Indian Army as a Commissioned Officer and retired after twenty years of active service in 1994. He fulfils countless tasks on behalf of the Trust, and his presence has been invaluable to our progress and evolution as a charity.


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Sharan Patel, Trustee

Sharan is a co-founder of the Trust. She first went to Darjeeling in April 2007 as a volunteer teacher and assistant at the girls’ home. She was so touched by the children that a seed to continue helping them on her return was well and truly planted. Sharan was born in Kenya and has since lived and worked in many countries including the United States and Hong Kong. She has an IT background specialising in banking software. Sharan enjoys reading, walking (although the pace is now a bit slower following a skiing injury) and travelling. She has several nieces and nephews who keep her young.


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Tshering Huber, Trustee

Tshering was born and grew up in Darjeeling, where she attended Loreto Convent and St. Joseph’s College. After completing a BSc in Biology in Montreal, Canada she worked as a bio lab instructor at a junior college and taught general and business English as a foreign language. She is now retired and lives in Switzerland, where she enjoys keeping in touch with school friends, promoting Darjeeling teas and at the weekends working in her ‘mini vineyard’. Although Tshering has spent most of her life abroad, her heart still lies in Darjeeling, and through her involvement in DCT she hopes to fulfil her wish to help the children there.


Aashwin Pradhan, Project Director (DCT Funded Employee)

Aashwin has a BEng degree in Electronics & Communication. An entrepreneur at heart, Aashwin decided not to follow the typical route into an IT career, but instead founded his company ‘Lungta Creative Production’, where he combines his technical know-how with a passion for creativity to work on video projects. Later, he also started a tourism website named ‘GoingHomestays’ focused on building a network of homestays in Darjeeling and connecting the guests directly to the host. In his free time, Aashwin loves to read (books on philosophy / spirituality are a favourite), ride his motorbike, take photos and inspire others. He has a strong motivation to help those in need and, since starting work, he has made a huge impact on the reach of our charity in Darjeeling. His favourite quotes are: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ and ‘The best is yet to come’.


 

Alok Rai, Deputy Project Director (DCT Funded Employee)

Alok, a dedicated professional, joined DCT in July 2023 to collaborate closely with Aashwin on vital projects. With a talent for maintaining computer records and a knack for connecting with sponsored children, Alok ensures efficient data organization while making a meaningful impact on young lives. Outside work, he’s an active member of the Darjeeling Enfielders Club, where he gathers donations and aids those in need, showcasing his commitment to social causes. Alok’s dedication to both his work and altruistic pursuits embodies his admirable character and commitment to bettering the community.


Our trustees are delighted to have the benefit of expert, pro-bono support from two Senior Advisors, David Medland and Zahir Cama. Terms of Reference for this arrangement are here.


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David Medland, Senior Advisor

David was born in Meerut, India, and educated at St Paul’s School, Darjeeling, where he spent nine years. Whilst at school, David also studied piano, reaching the Teachers and Performers Diploma stages through the Trinity College of Music, London. He was later awarded a school organ scholarship and played the organ in the school’s chapel on weekdays.

David came to London in 1965 to join a firm of chartered accountants; he was admitted into partnership in 1979 and remained with the firm for 45 years, latterly as a senior partner, until his retirement. Throughout his career, David carried out audits and corporate finance assessments for clients within the UK as well as in the USA, India and the Far East. and also worked as an assistant director at the UK Serious Fraud Office, specialising in forensic and litigation support work including on high profile criminal fraud cases.

Since retiring, David has joined the committee of the Old Paulites Association (Europe) and is currently its Honorary Secretary. He takes a strong interest in the welfare of the school and its future and is keen to promote its activities and involvement with the social sector locally. His other interests include music, the theatre and golf. He was married and has one son, Christopher.

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