Simon Gillett 24.09.1938 - 04.02.2016
Simon Gillett was the first chair, first President and, in many ways, the originator of FROK. Meeting Maryam Bibi in the course of his work in Pakistan he recognised her as an outstanding woman, someone who could help resolve what he saw as the country’s crucial problem: its failure to use the talents of its female population. When Maryam came to York he introduced her to his friend, Ian Sinclair, as well as to Caroline Pym to whom he was related and who was one of the Trustees of the
Clark family trust. Maryam lived for a while with Elma and Ian Sinclair and FROK was envisaged and given shape in discussions between Maryam, Elma and Caroline. It was then launched at a large fundraising meal which Simon attended as
the official head of the new Charity.
The connection with Maryam came about from Simon’s role as the UN’s representative in a drug eradication programme in Dir, one of the areas in which KK operates. The project aimed to persuade farmers to grow onions and other crops rather than opium and to provide the infrastructure and financial inducements to enable them to do this. Simon’s role was to ensure that the UN’s money was well spent while the management of the project belonged to the Pakistan Government. This division
of responsibility could easily have led to serious conflict. That it did not was down to Simon and reflected what must be an almost unmatched experience of similar roles.
Following schooling at St Pauls, Simon did national service and was commissioned into the Nigerian regiment in Nigeria. He then went to Cambridge, spent a year helping to run a plebiscite in the Cameroons, married his redoubtable wife Alice,
entered the then Ministry of Labour, and set up house in London. The Ministry of Labour of those days appeared to him to do little of importance and in many ways very little at all. So in search of a real job, Simon, Alice and his two children Atalanta and Louisa went to Bechuanaland (then in transition to becoming Botswana) .
Simon’s time in Botswana was the beginning of a long career of public service in countries that had formerly been part of the British Empire but had either transitioned to independence, were in the process of doing so or were too small to do so entirely. This work included the management of multi-million pound mainly agricultural projects in the Sudan, Tanzania, Nigeria and Pakistan, and important lead roles in central administration in Botswana, St Helena, Nauru, Ascension Island and the Commonwealth Secretariat. His transparent integrity enabled him to work successfully for newly independent governments, for the British and other European Governments, the UN, World Bank and EEC and often for more than one of these at the same time. His high intelligence enabled him to grasp the essence of the problems involved but this understanding was always grounded in his conversations with the farmers and others whom his projects were designed to help. As a result, he was effective, successful and long-remembered.
In many ways the most remarkable thing about Simon was not the important things he achieved but what he was. On his mother’s side Simon was Jewish; his communist father was a distinguished botanist; other relations were Quaker bankers and businessmen. Perhaps because of these diverse origins he was absolutely free of any kind of class or racial prejudice. Abroad he lived an almost monastic existence with very little in his room but his radio and books. He saw people clearly, noting, for example, the excessive drinking of the majors he met on National Service and the foibles of certain left wing groups or Christian Evangelicals. While sometimes bemused by these individuals, he never judged them. Instead, he was always constructive, kind and loyal to the causes and people in whom he believed.
It is very hard to believe that he is gone. He will be greatly missed.
Welcome to our website
UK Friends of Khwendo Kor (FROK) is a UK registered charity set up to support Khwendo Kor (KK), a Pakistani non-governmental organisation (NGO) organisation which works to improve the well being of women and children in two of the poorest and most conservative areas of the world - Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as North West Frontier Province) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Here, infant mortality and maternal mortality rates are high and female literacy is low. Khwendo Kor efforts are primarily centred on improving the health, education and income generating opportunities available to women and children in the region.
Since its establishment in 1993, Khwendo Kor (Pashto for 'Sister's Home') has worked to tackle problems such as low female literacy rates - as little as 1% in some areas - and infant and maternal mortality rates - amongst the highest in the world. It has done this through measures such as the establishment of girls' schools and the training of women as teachers and birth attendants.
As a charitable organisation, Khwendo Kor is dependent on contributions from donors in order to carry out its work. Agencies such as UNICEF, Oxfam, the World Bank and the Pakistani, German, Dutch and UK governments have contributed funds for specific projects and have monitored and approved the results.
However, agencies give money for projects which by definition are limited in time and scope. Khwendo Kor has no core funding to sustain its future or to allow it to expand into the many villages where it is still needed including those in the Tribal Areas which are the most remote and conservative of all.
On these pages you can find out more about the activities of FROK and Khwendo Kor and about how you can help Khwendo Kor continue its crucial work.
FROK is registered with the Charity Commission (Registration No: 1095857) and its registered address is 1, Darbie Close, New Earswick, York, YO32 4DJ. You can contact FROK by clicking on the 'Contact Us' box in the left hand side menu.