WATSAN appoints Alison Fergusson as new trustee and Treasurer

WATSAN appoints Alison Fergusson as new trustee and Treasurer

Our Board of Trustees is delighted to welcome Ali, who brings a wealth of experience as an engineer in the water sector in the UK, and will take the reins as Treasurer.

Following the tragic death of our longstanding Treasurer Stephen Bullett, Ali came forward to offer her time and expertise to WATSAN. After socially distanced meetings with the team, she attended her first trustee meeting via Zoom on 17th October and was voted in unanimously.

With a background in Chemical Engineering, Ali has worked for Thames Water and Severn Trent Water, and is now using her engineering expertise with UK water sector regulator Ofwat. She and her husband Tim, a Baptist Minister, have been donors ever since a trip to Uganda several years ago.

Ali and Tim wanted to do something a bit different to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary, so took part in a ‘Tearfund Go’ trip to visit water and sanitation projects in Uganda. As Tearfund is a longstanding partner of WATSAN, their trip centred on visits to the WATSAN team and their projects. Ali said, “It was inspirational to see the transformation of daily life that WATSAN brings as the staff work with local communities to deliver truly sustainable improvements. We came home with a massive respect for WATSAN and now give to WATSAN regularly.”

Just before he died Stephen completed our annual charity accounts and had them signed off by an independent examiner, so we were in a position to submit them to the Charity Commission on time. Ali will pick up where Stephen left off, managing WATSAN’s donations, bank account and transmissions to the field on a quarterly basis, alongside our Chair Ian Bensted and with the support of the rest of the Board.

We are so grateful to Ali for taking on this new challenge and giving WATSAN a much-needed boost, and we are very pleased that she has already visited the project and met the staff team in Uganda. We look forward to building on this relationship together for the benefit of the communities we serve.

Meet the trustee team

Could you or someone you know join our team? WATSAN is urgently seeking a new volunteer Treasurer

Breaking News: We are delighted to be able to report the appointment of a new Treasurer for WATSAN, from Oct. 17th. More details will be posted shortly. Thank you everyone for your interest and support.

WATSAN trustees group photo

Following the tragic death of our highly esteemed Treasurer Stephen Bullett, WATSAN is urgently seeking a new Treasurer to join the Board of Trustees.

This is a pivotal role in the continued efficient functioning of WATSAN, and the chance for someone who shares our values to make a huge difference to the lives of some of the most impoverished people in South-Western Uganda. It encompasses the management of donations, transmissions to our team on the ground in Uganda, and preparation of annual accounts. Full details can be found in the job description.

Our new Treasurer would join a team of approachable, experienced, like-minded people all committed to ensuring a bright future for WATSAN and the communities we serve. We offer a positive outlook and a hand of friendship to anyone joining our ranks!

We would like to ask our wonderful network of donors and supporters to please consider if you or anyone you know might be able to step up and help WATSAN in this crucial role. Stephen left WATSAN’s accounts in good order, and his diligent and conscientious approach means that the paperwork will be ready to hand over without too much trouble. We feel certain that there is someone in our combined networks who has the vision and talents to continue his legacy.

Please do ponder this job description, forward it on, share it on social media, or even print it and put it up in your loo! And if you have any thoughts or ideas, please do contact Ian at bensted@easynet.co.uk.


WATSAN loses brilliant Treasurer Stephen Bullett

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the sudden death from heart failure of Stephen Bullett on 13th July 2020 at the age of 67. Stephen was a very successful professional electrical engineer who served WATSAN brilliantly as Treasurer from our inception in 2003.

By Ian and Ellie Bensted

Stephen is pictured here in 2007, with his lovely wife Julie in the background, amongst a few of the many people in Uganda that they have served so faithfully over their years of dedicated service for WATSAN. Stephen is here talking “treasurer to treasurer” with the Treasurer of the Nyakashenyi Gravity Flow Scheme.

For nearly 40 years Stephen was a chartered electrical engineer, and latterly a Team Leader, working for consultancies designing electrical systems for large industrial plants in the oil, gas, chemical and water industries. By the time of his retirement in 2014 Stephen had already given WATSAN 11 years of faithful service, early on leading us into charitable status, achieved in 2008.

As Treasurer of WATSAN for 17 years, Stephen exercised impeccable integrity throughout. His accounts were indistinguishable from those of a professional accountant. He led in the quarterly transmission of funds to Uganda, and in all our dealings with the Charity Commission. He and Julie were also massive contributors to the biennial Walk for Water events. Meticulous, hard-working, wise and always gracious, with a gentle teasing sense of humour if one of the Trustees needed correcting, Stephen will be greatly missed by us all. He will be a hard act to follow!

A convinced Christian, Stephen was an active member of St John’s Church in Locksheath, Southampton, where the Vicar, Revd. Peter Ingrams, a founding father of WATSAN, persuaded Stephen to volunteer to help. Later, when Stephen and Julie moved to Clayhidon in Devon, he quickly gained the confidence of local people and became churchwarden there. A practical man throughout, Stephen enjoyed restoring a 1950 Daimler motor car during his retirement, and took an invaluable role in the replacement and management of successive WATSAN project vehicles in Uganda.

Stephen’s premature death is a grievous loss, not only to Julie and their son Richard, relations and friends, but to the whole WATSAN family.

The “dancing roads” and the WATSAN truck

The pot-holed Ugandan roads are taking their toll again, and the project truck upon which the staff team rely so heavily will need replacing soon. 

In December we shared with supporters the need for a new motorbike for Moses to help him negotiate the “dancing roads” to reach the remote villages of the Kinkiizi Diocese.

Your response was swift and generous. We have a small surplus, which we’ve put into a Vehicle Fund. This has been augmented by the Ugandan Team prudently offering the old clapped-out bike for sale to the highest bidder. 4 million Ugandan Shillings (about £850) was raised!

In 2015 the UK Support Group sent funds for a well-researched second-hand Toyota truck to transport the team and their necessary equipment and materials across the project area, which is about the size of Oxfordshire. Over these five years the dancing roads have taken their toll, requiring expensive repairs in Kampala over 200 miles away.

A replacement will cost some £25,000, sooner rather than later! So, once again we are seeking your generous support.

No vehicle – no project – the truck is the workhorse of WATSAN!

Donate now

Sir John Houghton

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Sir John Houghton on April 15th 2020 at the age of 88. Described as “one of the greatest scientist statesmen of our time”, John was knighted by the Queen in 1991.

By Ian and Ellie Bensted

John and Sheila Houghton with Bishop Dan Zorecka

John and his wife Sheila, pictured here in Wales with Bishop Dan Zoreka, Bishop of Kinkiizi, have enthusiastically and generously supported WATSAN for the past 11 years. John took part in our first Walk for Water in 2011, and he and Sheila have been dear friends ever since.

As an Oxford professor and one-time Head of the Meteorological office, the world will remember John for his immense contribution towards the understanding of climate change, beginning with research as early as the 1960s. He continued to spread the message of potential “mass destruction” if no action were to be taken about global warming, with dogged determination to a sceptical world. This culminated in 2007 in his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Al Gore, on behalf of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), as their co-chairman.

In recent years John became frail, as sadly dementia set in, but lovingly supported and cared for by Sheila, he continued to delight in their garden, the sight of his much-loved Welsh hills, and in walking by the sea, right up until just a few weeks before he died with COVID-19.

A convinced Christian, an elder in the local church in Aberdyfi, Sir John lived an amazingly fruitful life, always putting his faith into practice. John leaves amongst other publications a classic university textbook on climate change Global Warming (5th edition), a book for enquirers into Christianity, “The Search for God – can science help?”, and his very readable autobiography, In the Eye of the Storm, which we warmly recommend.