AVS UK Trustees and Advisors

Marie Cates, Founder and Trustee

In 1999 Marie Cates went to Uganda as a volunteer with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and lived and worked for three years in the villages around Muyembe, then a small town in the district of Bulambuli. Convinced by her experiences that short-term or externally imposed aid programmes were no solution too long-term needs, she established a charity, African Village Support.

Prior to this Marie had a career in the UK Education Sector and her last post was Headteacher at a school in Shropshire for over 10 years. Since retireing as a headteacher Marie works to raise awareness and funds for the AVS programmes. Her philosophy which penetrates throughout the organisation is to "Improve, through sustainable and sustained support, the quality of life of the people who  live in the villages of Bulambuli. In her spare time Marie enjoys being with her family and in particular her grandchildren and enjoys walks in the Buckinghamshire countryside where she lives.

On May 12th 2017, Marie made her way to Buckingham Palace for the very special presentation of the Britishish Empire Medal (BEM) which was awarded to her for her dedicated service to AVS and the charitable work she does in Eastern Uganda. This picture shows Marie inspecting her medal after the event.

Amina West, Trustee

Amina worked with AVS in an advisory role for almost two years before becoming a Trustee in November 2016. Amina brings strong management and organisation skills to AVS and is now focussed on the operational running of AVS working alongside the rest of the UK trustees and advisors. With over 30 years experience in the software industry in sales, marketing and senior leadership roles Amina is keen to leverage her experience to help develop, promote and raise funds for the work AVS does.

In addition to the work at AVS, Amina works for several other charities and is a keen traveller and has enjoyed her trips to Uganda to visit the team and overseeing the various programmes. In between her charitable work Amina has a large extended family spread across the globe from Austrailia, to Malaysia to London and Liverpool whom she enjoys spending time with.

Alex Steele, Trustee

Alex is the Managing Director & founder of Improwise and provides expertise in environmental management, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, leadership development, organisational change & innovation. Alex is also a jazz pianist, composer, and educator and in between work which takes him across the world he performs as a solo artist, and with his trio and quartet, at venues and festivals throughout Europe.

Alex is no stranger to Uganda and has visited many times with friends and family and we are delighted to have him on our board of trustees.

Rob Green, Trustee

Rob is the managing partner of Curzon Green Solicitors based in the UK and has been practising as a solicitor since 2001. Rob has been a long-time supporter of AVS and has helped link AVS to key business partners who have helped develop AVS in various ways.

During 2016 Rob undertook to run the Ugandan marathon and raise funds for AVS along with his wife Jennifer. During his visit to Uganda, Rob was able to visit AVS and see for himself the work we do as a charity particularly with the most vulnerable of people. This inspired Rob to want to do more to help those who needed help the most and has since joined our board of trustees and is key to our fund raising activity.

Suzannah Fullagar, Trustee

Suzie studied Forensic Science at London University and is currently a jewellery designer. Suzie has a great passion for improving the lives of young and vulnerable women and has made a huge impact on raising funds for the updating of the Kefa Mukotu girls hostel in Muyembe.

Suzie is also a keen traveller and explorer and has recently returned from a trip to Antartica. Whilst in Uganda Suzie also had the opportunity to visit Rwanda and see the silver back gorilla's, she also found time to bunjee jump over the river Nile. Never a dull moment we hope Suzie continues to create some exciting fund raising opportunities and events throughout the year.

Trish Lewis, Trustee

Trish has been a trustee of the charity since its inception having travelled to Muyembe several times and her husband David has been treasurer for AVS in the past. Her passion for the work AVS does has seen Trish and David sponsor a number of students from primary school through to college and is proud of what her students have achieved with their help.

Trish is also an accomplished musician, singer and actor and has recently directed a production of Oliver at her local theatre. Trish is a key fundraiser for AVS and other charities, including Chambermade Opera and has been instrumental in the promotion and support to AVS and Marie over the years.

Stephen Cates, Trustee and Chairman

Stephen is a partner of Draper Lang Solicitors based in the UK. He graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury with a first degree in Politics and a Masters in International Relations. Stephen has been chairman of the UK board of trustees and has made several trips to visit the programmes and people of AVS Uganda. 

Stephen has a wife, two daughters, two dogs, two goats, two cats and three ponies (not necessarily in that order). He is an avid (and average) golfer and a season ticket holder at Anfield where Liverpool FC reside.

Naomi Lumutenga, Trustee

Born in Toro Eastern Uganda, studied BA Geography and Economics Dip Ed at Makerere University, Kampala, Naomi then came to the UK and studied Education Policy at UCL. Naomi now works part of the year in Kampala and the rest of the year in the UK. Naomi is co-founder and coordinator at Higher Education Resource Services – East Africa (HERS-EA) and is married, with two sons and two daughters.

Naomi is a key link to the policy, process and culture of Uganda and the UK which enables the work we do with the local community of AVS Uganda run smoothly and effectively.

David Cates, Trustee

A primary school head teacher who plays rugby, and has travelled to Uganda on several occasions to oversee and support the work we are doing. David and his children are planning another trip this year and I am sure he will be delighted with our progress. David has a daughter of 15 and a son of 13.

Val North, Trustee

Val is a highly skilled administrator with many years of working with high profile people in the City of London and has been key to help develop AVS over the years. Val has been involved with AVS since the start and has visited Muyembe on several occasions and has been a big contributor and support to both the people of AVS Uganda and Marie. Val is also a keen sponsor of the Education Programme and has sponsored many students through to higher education.


Jill Roberts
An experienced Teaching Assistant in nursery education Jill regularly offers voluntary secretarial work for AVS applications for funds and training at the AVS Secretarial Office in Muyembe.  Jill is a Senior Consultant with IBM UK Limited and an active fundraiser for AVS.

Lucy Wood
Special thanks to Lucy Wood for doing the  administrative work and for the long hours she spends packing AVS items for shipment.

Gabrielle West
Currently Gaby works for the UK Central Government at the Cabinet Office. We are delighted that Gaby can join us and advise on an important aspect of linking to other communities, individuals, networks and organisations through social media.

Rebecca Lewis
Having just completed her degree in Disaster Management and will graduate later this year, Rebecca has joined our team as a volunteer to carry out vital research work on the impact AVS has had on the local community of Muyembe and surrounding parish's. We hope to be able to use the data to help us target more fund raising activities to help the most vulnerable people of Muyembe and give them a better chance in life.
Cara Picton
This year we have been very fortunate to have Cara, a talented and major contributor to our team in Uganda. Cara has undertaken various humanitarian work in Europe and Africa and as part of the work Cara has been doing for us she has been working with Joseph Wosikra from Home of Talent to create a new video to support our Vulnerable Programme.
Contributions and support from:

Sylvie Hughes - funding applications
Melanie Roberts - CRM support
Jean and Simon Carless for treasury and financial management


Contact AVS

Phone: +44 (0)7546 124450

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Post: AVS c/o Curzon Green Solicitors
114-116 Oxford Road
High Wycombe
Buckinghamshire HP11 2DN
United Kingdom

African Village Support is registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with registration number 1164318.


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