All of the key personnel involved are resident in the UK.
Graham Howat (Founding Trustee and Chairman)
Graham is, by training and education, an Aeronautical Engineer with considerable experience at a senior management level in both the UK and overseas. In recent years he has operated internationally as a Management Consultant. He is Maggie Gilbert’s brother, and she has called upon his experience to help her to create the business plan and bring “BETTER LIVING” to fruition.
He has had significant exposure to the Care Sector; his first-hand contact with the trials, successes and frustrations that Maggie has experienced in the context of Thea’s care represents almost 40 years of exposure. He also had a close involvement across 15 years with the care of both parents, his wife’s mother, aunt and uncle. In the case of his mother-in-law, he was a participant in the progression from independent living, the onset of dementia, forgetting to eat and medicate, mild strokes, falling-down and forgetting how to walk, to a wheelchair and a care home.
Graham has a Master’s Degree in Aircraft Design/Air Transport Engineering from Cranfield University and has undertaken further studies at Henley Management College and INSEAD in Fontainebleau. He has been a member of Council and Court at Cranfield University and was for 13 years the Organiser of a major, annual, Charity Walk in his then Cambridge community. Through his career, he has spent prolonged periods working in Hong Kong; Sweden; Belgium; USA; Ireland; South Africa; Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
He is now retired but continues to actively work on airline and charitable projects.
Maggie Gilbert (Project Co-ordinator)
Maggie’s background in Care has been comprehensively described on the Background page of this website. Her achievements in the Voluntary and Charitable Sectors have also been outlined in that section. It remains then, to describe her achievements outside these fields.
Maggie initially qualified with a Diploma in Art & Design in Fine Art (Sculpture) in 1968, since when she has enjoyed successful careers in fields as diverse as freelance art; teaching; personal taxation and hospitality, before focussing her energies in the Voluntary Sector. She has added an HND in Business & Finance; the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma, and Part 1 of an MBA, as well as qualifying as a Reflexologist – to which she has added numerous additional hospitality and reflexology qualifications, having always participated in a full programme of Continuing Professional Development.
Without question, she is an individual with the background, the energy and the motivation to head a project such as Better Living.
Howard Gilbert (Founding Trustee and Honorary Secretary)
Howard achieved a Degree in Japanese and Business Management at Durham University, and upon graduation, was employed in Japan for two years, as a Co-ordinator for International Relations. Once back in the UK, he trained, qualified and worked as a City Broker for three years. However, realising that an office job was not for him, he decided to retrain in manual medicine.
Howard is now a fully qualified Osteopath, having graduated from the British School of Osteopathy – the oldest and largest Osteopathic School in Europe. He owns, manages and works out of his complementary medicine clinic in Ashtead, Surrey.
He has first-hand experience of living with, and day-to-day management of disabilities, as his younger sister, Thea, became severely multiply disabled through illness at the age of 9 weeks. He has always been very involved on a voluntary basis in the Charities that Maggie has established to help and support families with children who have disabilities over the years – providing individual, personal care when required, and also organising and directing activities and outings.
With a love of travel and intense interest in other cultures and languages, Howard has lived and worked in Japan; Norway; Spain Qatar and UK, and visited many more countries, including Hong Kong; Russia; France; Slovakia; Austria; Bahrain; UAE and Jordan. He is fluent in Japanese, has conversational French; Norwegian and Spanish, and has recently returned to the UK after spending 5 years in Qatar with his family.
Fred Watson (Founding Trustee and Honorary Treasurer)
Fred grew up in Switzerland before moving to the UK in 1994 to train as a physiotherapist. He has a BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy and an MA in Healthcare Management. He worked in a number of clinical and leadership roles in Manchester before relocating to Qatar in 2013 to open a new women’s and children’s hospital in his capacity as Director of Allied Health. Fred then moved to Surrey in 2018 to take up a position at Ashford and St. Peter’s NHS Foundation Hospitals as Associate Director of Therapies. In 2020 he moved into digital as Chief Clinical Information Officer for Nursing, Midwifery and AHPs to support the implementation of a new electronic patient record system, jointly with the Royal Surrey Hospital. In November 2021 he then took up a new position as Clinical Director for Therapies and Rehabilitation at Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.
Fred is an experienced healthcare manager with demonstrated ability to lead complex therapy and AHP teams in both acute and community settings. He has significant experience establishing new services on green-field sites.
Fred is a native French speaker with a Greek mother and British father, so still has family links in Switzerland, Greece and the UK. He met Howard Gilbert in Qatar and has kept close links since, having repatriated together back to the same area in Surrey.
Nigel Gilbert (Founding Trustee)
Nigel has a BA Hons Degree from the University of Northumbria. Since graduating, he joined the digital media industry in its infancy, and after working at some of the internet’s original portals, he joined a small team and co-founded the UK’s first digital advertising sales agency. They lately sold that business to France Telecom, and he since launched and ran AppNexus in Europe – the World’s largest independent advertising exchange.
Being brothers, Nigel had the same experiences as Howard, growing up alongside disabilities, and participating in the activity schemes set up and run by Maggie.
Jonell Rowe (Trustee)
Jonell is a London based independent writer, director and producer, who first ventured into the Arts through studying Drama at the BRIT School of Performing Arts. After graduating in 2011 with two BTEC National Diplomas, he then went on to co-found the production company “Lionstooth Films”. His style of work focuses on emotions spiralling out of control, affecting an individual’s actions, which in turn affects the world around them.
Jonell has gone on to write and direct 16 short films which have been recognised by industry professionals and won awards such as Best Short Film at the London City Film Awards 2017 and Narrative Short Film at the Hollywood Sun Film Awards in October 2018, He recently graduated with a 1st Degree Diploma after studying BA Film and Television for three years at the University of Bristol, and has since gone on to work as an Assistant Director for HETV scripted dramas such as Brigeton and its upcoming prequel series – Queen Charlotte and Apple Television’s third season of The Trying. He has been a 1st Assistant Director for a BFI funded short film called “My Brudda” which began filming in early February 2023, and a BAFTA nominated short film called “The Ballad of Olive Morris” which was nominated for Best Short Film at the BAFTA this year.
With his work focussing on emotions, Jonell has spent time with Thea, and developed a deep interest and support for the Aims of Better Living, which has led to his interest in becoming a Trustee of the Charity.