WATSAN’s trustees were delighted to welcome 30 of their valued supporters to afternoon tea, hosted by our Patron Bishop Andrew Watson at his residence in Guildford.

It was a perfect English spring day: glorious sunshine, flowers in full bloom and tea and cake aplenty! WATSAN trustees are extremely grateful to Bishop Andrew for sharing the beautiful gardens and marquee at Willow Grange for our tea party, which was the opportunity to put faces to names for both our trustees and some of our most loyal and longstanding supporters, and to celebrate 18 years since WATSAN was founded by Chair Ian Bensted MBE.

  • Bishop Andrew WATSAN with WATSAN's 18th birthday cake

On arrival guests enjoyed a quiz around the garden, where they learnt eye-opening facts about water and sanitation in Uganda (for example, women typically walk 2km per water collection trip, carrying 20kg of water). There was a water relay game on the lawn, which gave a momentary insight into the effort required to carry full jerrycans of water, followed by talks from trustees over tea.

This was the chance for supporters to get to know each of the trustees better, and hear about their work for WATSAN and personal motivations for being trustees. WATSAN’s Chair Ian Bensted said: “Without you all, supporters and trustees, WATSAN would be nothing. I am personally grateful to you all for your support and assistance over the years, and many others who are unable to be with us this afternoon.”

Ian paid tribute to them, to the staff team in Uganda led by Rev Eric Baingana, and to those who we have lost in the past few years, in particular WATSAN’s longstanding Treasurer Stephen Bullett, and generous donor Sir John Houghton, whose recent legacy has enabled us to fund a new project vehicle in Uganda.

Bishop Andrew Watson said: “My connection with WATSAN goes back even beyond its 18 years – as I met the former director Eric Kamuteera when he came to Ridley Hall in the 1980s, when I was completing my training there. I was therefore really keen to be part of the project when Ian and Ellie later invited me to be its Patron.

“I visited the project in 2014 and what really impressed me was the fact that as much energy goes into making sure the community owns the projects as into the engineering side of things. It’s not something I had considered before and really makes WATSAN’s work unique.”

Trustees shared the personal greetings sent to supporters from Bishops Patrick Tugume and Dan Zoreka in Uganda, who are responsible for the two dioceses in which the charity operates. These can be seen here.

Another highlight was a new film highlighting the success story of a gravity flow scheme at Ruheza, and the need and potential for a similar scheme at Kazuru. Kazuru is WATSAN’s next target project and the subject of our current fundraising.

This film was put together collaboratively between the staff team in Uganda (in particular Moses Kabarebe, who narrates, and Marius Katungika, who shot the clips for it) and WATSAN trustee Kate Parrinder (who edited everything together).

We then heard from two supporters, Martin Fosten and Neil Fairlamb, on what inspires them to be WATSAN donors. Key to this was the trustworthy stewardship of donor funds, thanks to close connections with the partners and team on the ground, as well as the demonstrable impact on the lives of people in the rural communities served.

Reverend James Hunt also shared his experiences as leader of a trip to Uganda with his church group in 2017, and his intention to organise another trip next year.

Trustees closed the event by sharing how supporters could help with our ongoing work: by increasing standing orders to assist with rises in the cost of living for the team on the ground; by taking part in this year’s walks for water; and by helping us find a new secretary to join the Board of Trustees. Bishop Andrew gave WATSAN a blessing before beautiful cakes made by Jenny Shirley were cut.

Thank you so much to everyone who came, it was such a pleasure to welcome you!