Stuart Martin MBE
I am a firefighter with the Defence Fire Service, I am married to April and we have two grown up children and three grandchildren. I was recently honoured in the 2009/10 New Year’s Honours for my charity work locally in Ripon and also in Madagascar.
I have been involved with Madagascar for 11 years now, previously leading an annual bike ride with the UK charity LEPRA which is where I met the other trustees of TASC Madagascar. It quickly became apparent to us we had the necessary skills, knowledge and determination to be able to make a difference so TASC Madagascar was formed. Through our work in Madagascar I want to help restore a degree of dignity to individuals often living in marginalised communities. I also want to get more young people involved with our work from Europe, which is why in 2010 my daughter Gemma and I led a group of girlguides to Madagascar. They group visited the many projects supported by TASC and I know the trip has had a profound effect on all of them.
I am a retired solicitor who lives in Winchester. An enthusiastic cyclist since my school days, I began “sponsored” cycling in 1995, with annual rides across France thereafter. I cycled with Lepra in India in 2004 & in Madagascar 2005-8 inclusive, during which I gained a great insight into the nature of the Malagasy people.
I became one of the founding Trustees of TASC Madagascar because we have the means to help the poor & marginalized people we have met there. They deserve our help, and I know it would be wrong for us to turn our backs & quietly slink away.
I am a civil engineer from Ireland who first visited Madagascar with Stu, Jim and Chris some 9 years ago.
I have 4 grown children and a patient wife who understand and tolerate my passion for the work of TASC and who understand and share my responsibility in not “pretending not to see”.
Having started with the simplest of wells for the children of Tanjomoha we quickly realised the plight of the sick and homeless children, the appalling conditions in which Pere Emeric was trying to raise and educate so many disabled and abandoned children and the lack of hygiene, education and a future. Likewise with the forgotten people of Farafangana and Vangandrano. Hence TASC and our efforts to raise funds for the urgent needs of the children and forgotten.
I believe together we are making a small difference and the starfish we toss are changing lives, saving lives and bringing a ray of hope and dignity to our friends in Madagascar.
We ask what the people need and have the skills to deliver the help needed directly to the people we know and love.
Dr Chris Swinburn
I am a Consultant Physician in Taunton with the specialty interest of respiratory medicine.
I have become involved with Madagascar through my neighbour and friend Jim O’Brien who in 2001 needed someone to train with cycling around the Somerset lanes in order to go on a Lepra bike ride to Madagascar. In the end I went with him where I met his brother Pat and Bruce Ellis – both also TASC trustees. During this, and indeed a subsequent trip in 2006, the people of Madagascar made a deep impression through their kindness and warmth of spirit in the face of very considerable poverty.
In particular the remarkable mission Tanjomoha at Vohipeno, run by the inspirational Pere Emeric, touched all our hearts and is probably the reason TASC exists. So much has been achieved (with relatively little) there to help the most deprived with their health, education, nutrition and thus their dignity. This has been the main inspiration for our efforts in TASC.
As a respiratory physician it was particularly interesting for me to have been involved with the creation and construction of the TB hospital at Tanjomoha which we were able to finance following a successful bid to the Irish Missionary Fund. This (by Malagasy standards) is a modern and comfortable facility, very necessary for the treatment of TB, and has replaced what can only be described as chicken shacks in the woods.
I am a lawyer living in Taunton. I was introduced to Madagascar by Chris Swinburn who, through his passion for the country and its people, persuaded me to go on a charity bike ride in Madagascar. I was deeply moved by what I saw there and was delighted to be asked to join with the other trustees of TASC Madagascar to set up a new charity focussing on providing help to some of the most disadvantaged people on the planet. Since then I have been delighted to help in some small way to improve the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people on the planet.
Dr Jim O’Brien
I trained as a GP in Southern Ireland and for whatever reason – itchy feet no doubt – upped sticks and headed off to Malawi with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). When you are in charge of running a hospital and providing all the first hand clinical care to a large very poor district of 200,000 people you have to focus quickly on what is important and how to use your time to best effect. When you see the daily carnage of wasted children’s lives through malnutrition, poverty and a general lack of education for parents you realise quickly that pills and medicine are not the answer. So following further training in Public Health in the UK we did another stint of overseas development work where i was able to put some of my further training to good use in tackling TB, Leprosy, Malaria and other infectious diseases and diseases of poverty. Hence my interest in the work of TASC and the 6 or more trips I have now made to Madagascar has just simply confirmed – good health for individuals cannot be separated from good public health which has its roots in the alleviation of poverty and its consequences.