THE BRIDGE BUILDERS
A migrant from the ethnic strife of her native Sri Lanka, Gowri Thamotharampillai founded Bridge Builders in Unity in 2004. Settling in East Ham, she was quickly aware of the issues facing minority cultures integrating with a powerful host society – identity, language and loneliness to name but three. Early in her career Gowri acquired a raft of grassroots experience and academic qualifications – including a degree in social science and a post graduate degree in public and social administration. She was a refugee rehabilitation officer in Sri Lanka, an independent worker with street children in South India, and an English teacher and cultural mentor to isolated women in the London’s East End. For eight years she was a Civil Servant with the Charity Commission where she advised charities throughout England and Wales. Latterly, both running her own charity and working across the voluntary and private sectors, Gowri has been carer, counsellor and recruitment consultant. Today, as the dynamo of Bridge Builders in Unity, Gowri is realising her vision of helping young members of communities throughout Newham achieve their potential.
Chairman of Trustees
David Taylor is a veteran television producer with more than 50 years in the media – firstly as a Fleet Street journalist, then for 21 years as a programme maker with ITV. In the mid-80s, he set up and headed York Films of England, an independent production company specialising in science documentaries which are distributed and aired worldwide. Among a string of awards, he won an Emmy for 3 Minutes to Impact commissioned by Discovery Channel (USA). With ITV he produced a host of series and specials in current affairs, politics, children’s and science - including Don’t Ask Me with Magnus Pike which regularly achieved audiences in excess of nine-million.
Trustee and Company Secretary
A former senior Civil Servant, Mark Fry was with the Department of Employment before moving to the Charity Commission where he ultimately became Official Custodian for Charities, responsible for assets worth £1.4-billion. In 2003 Mark established The Reward Partnership, an HR management consultancy that works with both the public and private sectors including British Sugar, Budgens, BMJ and HMV.
Mark is a member of the distinguished Fry Family. His famous forebear Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), preacher, prison reformer and philanthropist, is depicted on a back of the English £5-note.
Trustee and Treasurer
Rajendra Shrestha, who hails from Nepal, has been with Bridge Builders since its inception – firstly as one of the young beneficiaries of our leadership building programme and latterly as a trustee and treasurer. Rajendra is a floating support officer with Eastwards Trust, an East London sheltered housing organisation that promotes independent living.