The CAIRN Trust Team
David Thomas MBE - Chairman, Co-Founder and Trustee
David was born in Lahore and educated at Wellington and RMA Sandhurst. His active service included Cyprus, and then with the 2nd KEO Goorkhas in Borneo, Singapore, Malaya, India, Hong Kong and Brunei. After leaving the army, he held a number of executive positions before finally starting Thomas's London Day Schools with Joanna. David is Founder Principal of Thomas's London Day Schools and also a Trustee of 2GR Trust.
MBE Update - David's unique contribution to the cause of education in the UK and, particularly, in Nepal led to him being awarded an MBE, for services to schools in Nepal, from Queen Elizabeth II on November 16th. His MBE sponsors have all trekked in Nepal with David over the course of the last 40 years, visiting remote villages where local schools had been or were about to be built, and seen first hand what David has achieved in this amazing country. His sponsors include Field Marshall Sir John Chapple, Lord Robin Hodgson, Bruce McFarlane, Jayne Hufschmid and Anneli Tedder.
David Thomas: "I am overwhelmed by this award. I regard this honour as one that reflects the work and involvement, for which I am most grateful, of many people, especially my wife Joanna."
"I want to help the hardworking and cheerful people of this country realise their dream and give what support we can to those who have no hope at all, but who could still make something of their lives, with even a very little help."
Joanna Thomas - Co-Founder and Trustee
Joanna was born in Calcutta and educated at The Manor House School, Limpsfield. She was an actress in repertory. She played juvenile leads in two West End productions and appeared in many dramas on BBC and ITV. As an army wife, she travelled widely in the Far East and has three children Bianca, Tobyn and Ben. On her return to London she founded Thomas's Kindergarten, Pimlico in 1971. Then in 1977, she opened Thomas's London Day Schools with David. Joanna is presently Founder Principal of Thomas's London Day Schools.
Joanna Thomas: "I want to help the children of Nepal through The CAIRN Trust because their opportunities for education and healthcare are limited. Their parents often face hunger and adversity but almost universally these hill people are honourable, hardworking and full of good humour."
Tobyn Thomas - Trustee
Tobyn was educated at Wellington College and Grenoble University. His work experience included theatre production, public relations and media management. Before joining Thomas's he ran the media operation of the XVI Universiade in Sheffield, the largest multi-sports event ever held in the UK; then The Rugby World Cup in France. He joined Thomas's as Director of Administration. He is married to Samantha and has three daughters, Isobel, Alice, and Matilda at Thomas's, Clapham. Tobyn is presently Executive Principal of Thomas's London Day Schools.
Tobyn Thomas: "I support the CAIRN Trust because children in Nepal need as much help as they can get."
Ben Thomas - Trustee
Ben was educated at Eton College, Durham University (studied English) and London University where he gained an MA in English in Education. After teaching in Lesotho, he spent two years working in corporate finance at Barings Bank in London. On joining Thomas's he was a form teacher at Clapham, then Headmaster of Thomas's, Kensington and is now Headmaster of Thomas's, Battersea. He is married to Katie and has one son, Ivo, and two daughters, Lotte and Poppy all of whom are at Thomas's Battersea. Ben is also an Executive Principal of Thomas's London Day Schools.
Ben Thomas: "I support the CAIRN Trust because Nepal has been a part of my family's life for as long as I can remember. As a child, I grew up attending events with the Gurkhas, who have given so much to our country. Now, by helping the children of Nepal through the CAIRN Trust, I would like to think that we can give something back to them."
Rachna Purdie - CEO
Rachna was born in India and educated at Kings College (studied Pharmacy-MRPharms). After a brief period in pharmacy and retail management for Boots The Chemist she joined the Operations and Marketing Team at their Head Office. She then gained further experience in project management and change management with Gemini Consulting. Rachna ran Thomas's Fulham PTA for 2 years before taking on her current position. She has two children Harry and Ria who are both at Thomas's Fulham and is married to Tarquin.
Rachna Purdie: "The zeal for education is there in Nepal, the children just need the support to make it happen. That is why I support the CAIRN Trust, because we can make that happen."
Harriet Abbott - Project Manager
Harriet was educated at Bristol University and gained a BSc in Physics. Whilst at university she took the opportunity to focus on renewable forms of sustainable energy appropriate to rural living. Over the past six years Harriet has travelled extensively and spent time teaching in India, Nepal and China. Taking an avid interest and active involvement in developmental projects delivered around the globe Harriet has gained invaluable knowledge, skills and insight.
Harriet Abbott: "Children in Nepal are dramatically let down by the lack of accessible and quality education. The CAIRN Trust offers an intelligent, practical and culturally sustainable solution to tackling this problem."
Bal Kashi Gurung - Library Development Officer
Bal was educated at Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu, Nepal and has gained a BA in English and Economics and a Masters in Economics. Prior to CAIRN, she gained invaluable skills working as a Library Mobilizer for another international development agency. She joined the CAIRN Team three years ago with the responsibility of delivering our library programme. Bal is a dedicated and self motivated member of the CAIRN team who is continually striving to improve both the programme and herself.
Bal Kashi Gurung: "When I was little we used to learn on straw matts on the floor of our classroom. The school had no books and we never read stories. I am so proud to be changing this story for thousands of children that are growing up in villages just like mine."
Marcus Cotton, CAIRN Coordinator Nepal
Marcus has worked in Nepal for over 25 years in tourism, community development and conservation in both charity and private sectors. His interests lie in forging effective community development initiatives which integrate sound conservation practices. In rural and remote area tourism he has developed the responsible conservation tourism concept of pioneering responsible tourism company, Tiger Mountain Nepal, and worked with colleagues on an audit scheme for responsible tourism operations, RT Reporting. He is eager to see Nepal develop on a human scale where local decisions are taken locally. For this, quality education, particularly at primary level, is essential.
Our Implementation Partners
Pahar Trust Nepal - CAIRN Construction Partner
Pahar Trust Nepal (PTN) was established in 1993 by its Co-founders Tom Langridge (now deceased) and Chandrabahadur Gurung. Its main focus is to coordinate the construction of schools in remote areas of East and West Nepal. It is also involved in non-school building projects including hostels, health and housing projects and most recently in teacher training. The Trust employs a small, dedicated team in Nepal, headed by four ex-Gurkha soldiers, including Chandrabahadur Gurung at the helm along with a team of craftsmen and labourers.
PTN has had a close working relationship with Thomas's London Day School's (TLDS) since 1998 when TLDS funded the building of a school in Samibhanyjang. In 2007, following the launch of CAIRN, Pahar continued to maintain its strong links with TLDS but channelled its activities through CAIRN.
SATHI Nepal - CAIRN Educational Award Partner
SATHI Nepal's mission is to break the cycle of poverty and oppression through Education, Health and Income Generation Programmes.
Since 2000, SATHI has reached thousands of vulnerable Nepalese children and families who are socially and economically underprivileged and denied their basic rights. In 2008, CAIRN teamed up with SATHI to implement the Educational Awards Programme in rural communities in Nepal.
Trish Ginnelly leads a dedicated team of Nepalese workers who are relentless in ensuring that the needs of the children are always put first.