Ocean Stars in the UK
Hi, I am Maureen Johnston and I presently have the privilege of serving as the chairperson of the OST board of trustees. It's a role that is relatively new to me – I moved to it in July 2015 following in the footsteps of John Bunter. John continues to give advice, guidance and support which is greatly appreciated.
My involvement with OST goes back almost to its beginning in 2005. Following the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 and Dilanee's return to Sri Lanka, I became involved with her in trying to bring support to people who had suffered and lost so much. Then, in 2008, I visited the projects for the first time and saw for myself the change that OST's work was beginning to bring to the lives of people living in remote parts of north east Sri Lanka. It's been a joy over the past seven years to work with and alongside our OSL team. Together we have seen the projects grow, especially our pre-school education programme. As an infant school teacher I am aware of how important early years' education is in providing a strong foundation for later development and achievement.
The work is ongoing and, along with the other trustees, I want to do all I can to ensure its continued success.
I currently hold the post of Secretary for Ocean Stars and have had the privilege of being a trustee since the inception of the charity in 2005. I am married to John and we have three children, Catherine, Chris and Peter. I have been friends with Dilanee since moving to Fleet in 1991 and our children have all grown up together, so it felt only natural to become involved from the very beginnings of Ocean Stars! I have previously been involved in fundraising for other charities and have held voluntary posts on school association fundraising committees.
I work part time in the Inclusion and Achievement Department of one of the Fleet Secondary Schools and am also the Volunteer Coordinator at the school. I have been able to use the skills that I have gained in my work and apply them to helping the children of Sri Lanka during recent visits to the country.
I'm John Bunter and I now serve as OST Treasurer. I have had a long affiliation with Sri Lanka, largely through my wife Dilanee, who founded the charity, and I have visited the country many times over the years and have gained an appreciation of the cultural, political and economic issues facing the country.
As a family we live in Fleet, Hampshire. Our three children, who have now emerged into their 20s, have all taken an interest in OST and its projects in the country, and have taken part in several of the October visits. My
professional background is in teaching modern languages to secondary age schoolchildren. I also have a keen interest in helping local sports clubs, and took much pleasure in 2010 in taking our local youth cricket team on tour to Sri Lanka.
Hi I'm Dilanee Bunter and I was born in Sri Lanka and lived there until I was 15 years old. When the Tsunami happened on 26th Dec 2004, I felt I wanted to do something personal to help the people of Sri Lanka rebuild their shattered lives. Friends and relatives in Sri Lanka introduced me to various post Tsunami relief projects and so the Ocean Stars Trust was born. I work as a teacher and a counsellor for the Education Other Than at School (EOTAS) Service of Hampshire County Council.
I'm Danny Carter and I first made contact with Ocean Stars through my wife; who taught with Dilanee. She considered joining the team visit to Sri Lanka and I asked if I could come along as well. So off we went in 2009. The tsunami and war had devastated the East Coast. I was not from a teaching background and was completely unaware of what my role would be, however, being an engineer I soon found many areas in which I could help -building maintenance, repairing playgrounds, purchasing various classroom equipment and being a general dogs body. The whole experience was uplifting, rewarding and totally exhausting. The children's smiling faces, the enthusiasm of the teachers, the realisation of how much our support meant to the isolated communities encouraged me to repeat the whole experience. We returned in 2010, 2011 and 2014. Now I have hung up my passport, hammers and drills but continue to support Ocean Stars in their valuable work by becoming one of the trustees.
I have recently had the pleasure of becoming an Ocean Stars Trustee. As a family friend of the Bunters, I have known about Ocean Stars since the beginning and have always admired the commitment and dedication the OST team puts in to helping people in Sri Lanka. My involvement began in helping out with the numerous fundraisers held throughout the year, until I became the Ocean Stars 'Intern' in 2014. I learned a lot during the internship and when it came to an end in 2015, I was honoured to be offered the position of Trustee. I carry out a lot of the administrative tasks and my Excel knowledge has certainly been put to good use!
It is a real privilege to be involved with Ocean Stars as a new Trustee. I've seen at first hand the real difference that the hard work and generosity of many is making to the lives of communities in Sri Lanka. I'm looking forward to being involved with Ocean Stars and seeing how the work with children and young people will development and grow.