Rwanda Action's Board of Trustees

Emma Messias

Emma Messias Trustee

Emma is a founding trustee of Rwanda Action and sits on the Fundraising Committee. She has visited Rwanda numerous times. Emma studied law at Kings College London and has been a criminal defence barrister since 2004. Emma has also worked pro bono for Amnesty International Philippines having been awarded a scholarship for death penalty work there. She has a long held interest in international development and is driven by a desire to promote justice and assist the disadvantaged both in her career and work with Rwanda Action.

William Gelling, OBE

William Gelling, OBE Vice Chair

Will joined the Foreign Office in 2001 and worked in a variety of postings, including India, Pakistan and Iraq. He was appointed High Commissioner to Rwanda in 2014 and was posted there for four years with his family. He worked to establish the direct air link between the UK and Rwanda, and on expanding British development and business links to Rwanda. He has worked with Rwanda Action’s founder in Rwanda and visited RA's projects. Since then he has kept up his links to Rwanda and to British development assistance overseas.

Emma Ogilvie

Emma Ogilvie Trustee

Emma first learnt about Rwanda Action through her children's prep school. She began to help the charity find sponsors for the children at Baho Neza Mwana and Ngwino Nawe. In 2015 Emma accompanied our Founder, David Chaplin, to Rwanda and has since visited Rwanda again. She found both trips were incredibly inspiring and humbling. In 2016 she became a Trustee and is responsible for the Sponsorship Programme and Chairs the Environmental Committee and sits on the Fundraising Committee.

Emma was formerly a partner in a London based tea-broking firm which involved many trips to the tea estates in East Africa. This kindled her interest in helping the vulnerable people in this region.

Deanne Thomas

Deanne Thomas Chair

Deanne established her own business in 2012. She served as a Governor at Vinehall School from 2014 to 2023, sitting on both the finance and general purpose and academic and pastoral committees. She became a volunteer with Rwanda Action in 2013 and joined the Board of Trustees in 2019. Deanne is the Chair of Rwanda Action and co-ordinates all fundraising events, the Rwanda Action Youth Associates (RAYA) and has visited Rwanda on numerous occasions.

Remy Twiringiyimana

Remy Twiringiyimana Trustee

Remy is a PhD Candidate in Science Technology Engineering and Public Policy at University College London and previously studied electrical and electronic engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Prior to starting his PhD, he served as Advisor to the Minister of Education in the Government of Rwanda for five years and before this he was Director of Research and Development in the Ministry of Education. He has also worked as Assistant Lecturer in Electronics and Telecommunications at the former Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, (now the University of Rwanda) and as Board Director for Mulindi Factory Company, Rwanda.

Alison Wright

Alison Wright Trustee

Alison is a farmer in Sussex, with a particular interest in agroecology. She first visited Rwanda in 1999 and became involved in establishing community tree nurseries there. With a desire to work more effectively in Rwanda, she studied for an MSc in Sustainable Agriculture. Later she helped set up farming training programmes in Rwanda, to enable smallholder farmers to increase food production in a sustainable manner. She has visited Rwanda nearly every year since then to support these programmes. In 2008 she became a UK Manager, working with the Rwandan staff on farming training and tree nurseries as well as helping on the other projects. She has been a Trustee since 2014. Alison sits on the Environment Committee.

Jane O'Brien

Jane O'Brien Trustee

Jane grew up in Zambia and has taught in Early Years at a Prep School in Richmond for the past 21 years. Previously her background was in Learning Development and supporting children with additional needs and their families. Jane is the safeguarding lead and Head of a busy nursery.

Jane first went out to Rwanda with a team of teachers in 2009 and has been out numerous times since. Visiting all of the projects and working in collaboration with the teachers and children in Rwanda providing support and continual development.

Patrick Henchoz

Patrick Henchoz Trustee

Patrick became involved with Rwanda Action when he helped fund the original farm training centre at Murangi farm in memory of his nephew Yann. Since then he has visited the ongoing projects in Rwanda on a number of occasions providing both support and advice. Every visit has been both humbling and rewarding.

Patrick has many business interests including hospitality, the health and fitness industry and is the current Group Non-Executive Chair of Learn Direct specialising in education management.

John Giles

John Giles Trustee

John completed his medical training and, after initial post graduate training in general medicine, he elected to pursue a career in Diagnostic Radiology, developing sub-speciality interests in interventional radiology and cardiovascular imaging.

On completion of his Radiology training, he took up a position as Assistant Professor of Radiology at Hershey Medical Centre, the medical school of Penn State University in the USA.

On returning to the UK John was appointed to a Consultant Radiologist position in Hastings where he became increasingly involved in medical management and was Deputy Medical Director.

With a growing interest in preventative medicine, he co-founded a health screening company, Lifescan, which was subsequently acquired by Spire Healthcare. He was then appointed as Medical Director of Benenden Hospital in Kent and advisor to Benenden Healthcare Society, helping to oversee the refurbishment of Benenden Hospital.

More recently he has served as a Governor and Chair of Governors at Vinehall School before becoming part of the Repton family of schools. During his time a School Governor he became increasingly involved with Rwanda Action.

He continues to work part time in the NHS and private practice and serves on the local parish council.