About The U Foundation

The U Foundation is a registered charity which aims to reach out and help others in developing countries, particularly rural African communities. Our primary aim is to assist those people in need of a helping hand to create a better life for themselves, focusing mainly on overseas education projects.

We raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations, schools and companies in both the UK and overseas and, as a small charity, we pride ourselves on being able to stay in touch with those who are benefiting. We also aim to provide substantial feedback to the supporters who have very generously donated.

The U Foundation is in a fortunate position to be supported by Leicestershire business, BVM Medical Ltd, meaning that we have no large administration costs or salaries to pay.  All of the money raised goes to where it is intended and all travel costs to visit the projects are covered by individuals, not by The U Foundation. We are deeply indebted to our trustees who give up their valuable time to ensure the smooth running of the charity.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors, supporters and volunteers, without whom we would not be able to continue with the extremely valuable work that we do. 

Meet the Trustees

John Beare

John Beare, a Cornishman, has lived in Camborne, a town about 25 miles from Lands End since 1973. John was a policeman for 30 years and, since retirement, has served on Camborne Town Council for 12 years, holding the position of Mayor three times, and on Kerrier District Council for 6 years until its demise in 2009. He is still an active member of the community and is currently a trustee of a small local charity. He has also been a governor at a small junior and infant school for the past 12 years and the Chair for almost 6 years. This school has close family ties as his children both attended there over thirty years ago. John has been a supporter of The U Foundation from its creation and since 2010 has been involved in various aspects of organising and supporting the annual London to Paris cycle challenge.


HarsadHarsad Chikhlia was born in Uganda and moved to the UK in 1972 during the Idi Amin expulsion. Harsad trained as an accountant in Bournemouth and London before joining the UK office of an Italian container leasing company as financial controller, working there for 8 years. In 1990 he moved to Vancouver, Canada, working in for his brother-in-law’s printing and stationery company and then the finance department of Future Shop, an electronics retailer. In 2003 Harsad moved back to the UK and joined BVM Medical. Harsad is married with 2 daughters and has recently become a proud grandfather. His interests are movies, motor racing, cricket and tennis. 


Sarah containerSarah Elton, a mother of two, works for BVM Medical in Leicestershire and has been involved with The U Foundation since its inception in 2006, her role being to facilitate and promote the work of the charity. This ranges from organising fundraising initiatives to providing full administrative support, making at least one trip a year  to Zambia to oversee the projects that The U Foundation undertakes. In recent years Sarah has found a new passion for cycling and enjoys both organising and taking part in the annual London to Paris cycle challenge in aid of The U Foundation.


Duncan Ettles preferred 1

Duncan Ettles is a hospital consultant based in Hull in East Yorkshire. He joined The U Foundation Board of Trustees in March 2015. He is married with three grown up children and his experience includes working for the British Society of Interventional Radiology, NICE and NHS England. Duncan has been involved with fundraising for The U Foundation since 2007. Having seen  at first hand the enormous impact which help from The Foundation has had in some of the poorest parts of Zambia, he intends to devote more time to the charity and its work over the coming years.



barbaraBarbara Fletcher has been involved with The U Foundation since its formation in 2006 and has visited Zambia a number of  times, spending time in Siankaba Nursery School working with the children.  One of these visits was to escort several  teachers from UK schools  to illustrate how they, and the schools here, can make any useful  contribution to the future of the supported projects. Barbara has worked with children for over 40 years  in schools,  as a Teaching Assistant and Secretary, and in the  voluntary  sector as a Brownie/Guide leader. She has raised funds for a number of charities and is actively involved in raising money for The U Foundation, in addition to helping with various administrative tasks for the charity.


IMG_1158a Charlie Gwillim first became involved with The U Foundation in 2008 when, whilst on holiday in France, he stayed at the same hotel as the London to Paris cyclists and from that chance meeting has been a keen supporter of the charity. Married and recently retired, he now has more time to devote to The U Foundation, managing to fit this in with his keen interest in sport, notably cricket, and brings a different perspective to the board, although it hasn’t extended as far as riding in the annual cycle event! He has however walked from London to Paris, raising money for the charity, preferring to make his own way independently and under his own steam rather than rely on pedal power!


photoShelagh Thomson is the Headteacher of The Merton Primary School in Syston, Leicestershire and since 2008 she has worked with the pupils to raise funds for Siankaba Nursery School. During Easter 2013 Shelagh visited Zambia with a group of Merton teachers and spent some time at the nursery school. She was so inspired by her visit that she went back to Siankaba the following summer to work alongside the Headteacher of the school for a month – it was an experience she will never forget and made her determined to continue her support. As a trustee of The U Foundation she is keen to use her time and expertise to fully support the development and growth of educational facilities for the children in Zambia.