Sally McLean, MBE

Sally McLean, founder of this charity, then called “Projects to Support Refugees from Burma” in 1996 in response to the humanitarian crisis on Thai / Burma border. The charity at that time was based in Brussels, became UK registered in 2007 and was renamed “Help 4 Forgotten Allies”. A mother of three children and grandmother to two, her work with H4FA has always been balanced with family life. She has made many trips to the Thai Burma border and to Burma/Myanmar and forged deep ties with the people there. Sally served as Chair of the charity for many years until 2023. She was awarded an MBE in 2021 and received the award from King Charles III (the then HRH Prince Charles). The award recognises Sally’s dedication to help WWII veterans and their widows, IDPs and refugees in and from Burma over two decades.

Geoff Holt

Geoff has been a Trustee of the Charity from its early days as H4FA, and for a number of years served as Treasurer. He is currently serving the charity as Chair. His interest was initially sparked by hearing about the plight of the Burmese people from visits of his brother-in-law to Burma. For a long time, Geoff has been working with refugees and asylum seekers from oppressed lands, and helps to oversee the work of several charities as Trustee and as Chair.
His working career has involved many years in business and in the teaching profession at University level. As numbers of veterans and widows the Charity supports are now in rapid decline, he has a particular passion to see the establishment of educational and humanitarian projects as a lasting legacy for the sacrifice of the old soldiers who served so faithfully.

Peter Mitchell

Peter Mitchell served in the British Army throughout the 1960s including in SE Asia and the Middle East. His interest in Burma stems from his Father’s military career.

His father, Lt Colonel Charles Mitchell, served in the British Army from 1930 to 1960. He was on extensive active service in WW11 in India/Burma with the Royal Artillery in the Indian/British Army. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and fought against the Japanese Imperial Army in Imphal, the Chin Hills, through to Mandalay and beyond, until the war ended. He thought very highly of the loyalty and courage of the Chin, Karen and others in their support of Britain and her allies.

Peter, due to his father’s fighting in Burma and his own service in the Army, has visited Burma/Myanmar a number of times as a Trustee of H4FA to help give support to the surviving old soldiers and their widow who very bravely supported Britain. This has been at great cost to them. As a trustee he is also active in H4FA’s most recent humanitarian projects including educational initiatives for refugees, IDPs and their children fleeing from the appalling fighting taking place within Myanmar.

Alex Bescoby

Alex Bescoby is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, author and presenter with a love of history, travel and storytelling.

Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis is a former army officer who now teaches History at Norwich School in Norfolk. One of the school’s most distinguished alumni is Hugh Seagrim GC, who fought with, and championed the rights of the Karen people in Burma during World War Two. This formed the initial connection with H4FA, whereafter Andrew travelled twice to Yangon in order to meet some of the surviving veterans. He is now a trustee with a particular interest in the educational side of H4FA’s work.

Van Lian

Van came from Chin State, Burma. After studying civil engineering at the University of Nottingham, he has been working as a Civil Engineer in the UK. He is now a British citizen and has two children. He has a keen interest in Chin history and has extensive knowledge in the ethnic Chin who fought alongside the Allies during WWII. He has been working with other trustees in distribution grants to the veterans and their widows in Chin State. Van is also leading the charity’s education project in Burma / India border.

Andrew Page

Having retired from full-time employment, Andrew was invited to become a Trustee for H4FA in October 2020 and assumed the role of Treasurer in July 2021. Andrew has a background in accounting and as his career evolved moved into general management with responsibility for functions such as finance & administration, operations and regulatory / board reporting. Most of his career was spent with large UK and International banks and life assurance companies.
His interest in Myanmar and its veterans was first sparked by reading Fergal Keane’s moving book ‘Road of Bones’ and more recently by the inspirational film ‘Forgotten Allies’ directed by his nephew Alex Bescoby. Work has continued maintaining and updating H4FA’s lists of veterans and widows and our contact with donors, especially the Royal Commonwealth Ex Services League (RCEL). The RCEL require an annual grant application and detailed reporting, as well as periodic covid surveys, plus, safeguarding and fraud awareness training for our staff on the ground. Transferring money to Myanmar since the military coup has been especially challenging, but nonetheless in 2021 and 2022 we have managed to complete our grant distributions.

Bertie Alexander Lawson

Bertie Alexander Lawson is the CEO of Sampan Travel, a tour operator based in Yangon creating tailor-made tours through Myanmar and India, including WWII battlefield tours. After graduating from the University of Liverpool with a BA in English Literature in 2013, Bertie moved to Berlin to work in communications. Two years later he arrived in Myanmar and set about building a tour operation that he intended to both offer exceptional, immersive experience to travellers while at the same time have a positive impact on the lives of local communities. This mission remains even more important in the current context.

Bellay Htoo South

Bellay Htoo South is Karen from Burma, and a UK citizen. She worked as a volunteer teacher for 4 years – until my village was occupied by the Burma Army in February 1997. In March 1997, after she married the writer Dr Ashley John South, they moved to the UK. Her passion is to help Karen people who are in need of education, health, and religion and to support communities in agriculture and livelihoods. Since 2002 She has also helped H4FA’s WWII veterans through grant distribution along the border. Since May 2021, she has been working with a small team to make maternity bags for displaced Karen, Karenni women in Burma. The Bright Stars – Maternity Bag includes products specifically for women who are pregnant and have young infants. These items will cover hygienic needs and allow women a measure of dignity in the midst of chaos. 

Denis Gray

A refugee at the age of six when his parents fled their homeland of Czechoslovakia to escape communist oppression. After university in America, he served in the U.S. Army as an officer in Japan and Vietnam.
After a year with the Associated Press in the United States, he was assigned to report on the wars in Indochina and in 1975 moved to Bangkok where as chief of the AP bureau and he was responsible for coverage over most of Southeast Asia. His first trip to Burma, where the AP maintained a small office, came in 1977. Since then, he has made many trips both to government- and ethnic-controlled regions although like other colleagues was banned from entry for several years.
After retirement, he has been contributing articles to the Asian Nikkei Review, including a number on the plight of the ethnic minorities.
During his AP career, he filed stories from 40 countries and from wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo and elsewhere. He now lives in a rural community north of Chiang Mai, Thailand.