The Boards Objectives and its Members

The Trust’s primary objective it to advance the education of the children attending, or who have attended, The Tongabezi Trust School - Tujatane. The Trust provide funds for the administration, maintenance and capital projects of the School thereby providing primary education (and financial support for secondary/tertiary education) and welfare for the children of Tujatane and its surrounds. The Trust also provides funds for Community Projects for the residents of villages local to Tujatane, designed to offer residents with education and an occupation. The Board of Trustees work with, and support, the Board of Governors as they lead the governance and strategic planning of the school there in Livingstone.

The Board is currently made up of nine UK based volunteer Trustees:

Marie Price

Chair of the Board

Marie’s passion for the school began in 2008 when she and husband, Nick, spent a ‘working honeymoon’ there, during which time Nick filmed a documentary and Marie, a professional actor, taught drama and directed a school production. Having worked in children’s theatre education for many years Marie is dedicated to educational and creative empowerment, child development and safety. She is a Governor for her local Primary school and works with other UK schools, specifically focusing on building strong relationships and communication links between staff, parents and pupils, enabling the strengthening of school life and local communities.

It’s this expertise in building local and global support networks, that Marie brings to her role as Chair on the board, a position of responsibility which she feels honoured to hold.

Vanessa Parker

Founder of the School

Vanessa arrived in Zambia from the UK as a VSO volunteer in 1989 to teach mathematics to students at a technical vocational school in Livingstone. She met her husband Benjamin Parker in 1990 whilst he was setting up the beautiful Tongabezi Lodge on the banks of the Zambezi. Tongabezi Lodge built the first Tujatane classroom and in May 1996 Vanessa set up Tujatane, Tongabezi Trust School with just 15 preschool pupils from the local villages. The UK Trust was established in 2002 with six board members including Vanessa. The School, the Trust and the Board of Trustees have grown and developed hugely. The school now educates around 400 local Zambian pupils. Vanessa Parker has been the Director of the School (and a member of the board) on a voluntary basis since inception. She is passionate about empowering the local community with an education that focusses on creativity, individuality, and gender equality, in order to offer greater opportunities for future generations.

Glen Jones-Smythe

The Trusts Treasurer

Glen became a Trustee in 2018 and recently took on the role of Charity Treasurer. Prior to this, he was the auditor of the Charity accounts. He became associated with Tujatane through his longstanding friendship with a fellow Trustee.

After graduating from Exeter University, he became a qualified Chartered Accountant (ICAEW) in 2006. He has worked in London at a European bank for the past 15 years. He is a keen traveller and is thrilled to have recently been able to visit the School.

David Fettes

Founder member of the Board

David Fettes has been a Trustee of our Charity since its inception. As a wildlife and travel photographer, he is a frequent visitor to Africa and first stayed at Tongabezi in 1999 which is when he came across Tujatane.

Since then, he has tried to visit the school at least once a year, and so is embedded in its culture and work. Born in India, and now a frequent traveller to places usually shunned by tourists, David is aware of the restrictions caused by poverty and values the hope and opportunity the school gives its pupils.

Susannah Robert

Susannah joined the Board of Trustees in 2020. She has worked in primary education for over 25 years, initially as a classroom teacher across the full primary age range and then as a music specialist.

In 2012 she took up a role at St. Mary's University, Twickenham as a senior lecturer in primary music and drama after realising that she could have a wider reaching influence on children's creative education by teaching trainee teachers. She has since completed a Master's degree and is now the Programme Director for the Primary Post Graduate Certificate in Education course at St. Marys'. Susannah is a keen traveller and is looking forward to combining her love for travel with her work in education by visiting Tujatane at the soonest possible opportunity.

Chantelle Thomas-Payne

Chantelle currently works as a School Business Manager in a London Primary school. For over 17 years, she has provided schools with operational, financial, and administrative support, helping them to thrive in an ever-changing educational environment. As well as being fully involved with school development and raising her two sons with her husband, she has turned her passion for helping others into a popular blog site, which she currently runs alongside her other commitments.

Chantelle’s driving force for being involved in education, has been the passion to create an environment in which every child has the opportunity to experience the joy of learning. Wanting to share this passion with others, was the key reason Chantelle has joined the board of Trustee's. She is very excited to be part of the school’s evolution and to use her expertise and experience to help fulfil all the opportunities the future holds.

Susan Lea

Susan Lea is passionate about the role of education in transforming individual lives and positively impacting society. She is a psychologist, having trained specifically in community psychology, and an educationalist.

As an academic, Susan's research and teaching has focussed particularly on social injustices such as racism, disability, and sexual and domestic violence. She has held several senior leadership roles in a range of universities, most recently as Vice Chancellor of the University of Hull. Susan is now a higher education consultant, specialising in university turn-around and transformation, cultural change and improved performance.

Zoe Olukoga

Zoe is a chartered accountant with a Masters in International Development and professional background in providing internal and external audit and consulting services to government and public sector organisations. She is a strong advocate for the empowerment of individuals to fulfil their potential and has a strong passion for education as a means of self and community empowerment. This has led her to volunteer with education-related initiatives dedication to initiatives which raise the personal, professional and educational aspirations of others. These have included as a classroom assistant, mentor to a secondary school student and a Corporate volunteer delivering skills workshops and interview training.

In her role as Trustee, Zoe hopes to use her past experiences to assist the Trust in complying with its statutory, regulatory and responsibilities in relation to the school and help ensure that the funds stewarded by the Trust are spent in the best interest of Tujatane, its pupils and the wider community.