Aviva boss heads for voluntary work in Africa
and former Norwich Union
boss Richard Harvey
and his wife Kay have announced that they will be spending a year in Africa doing voluntary work with the international relief and sustainable development charity, Concern Universal,
when Richard retires in July.
The couple, who used to live just south of Norwich in Yelverton, and attended St Mary's parish church, will be following the lead of their daughter Jenny whose Christian faith inspired her to spend a gap-year in Uganda working with Aids victims. It was a visit to the village where she was working which started them thinking.
Richard and Kay will travel to Kenya, Mozambique and Malawi in the autumn to meet the Concern Universal teams there and gain an understanding of the realities of development work in these countries. They then plan to live for extended periods in Malawi and Kenya working in rural communities on a range of projects including the installation of sustainable clean water supplies, micro-finance programmes and education in schools on issues such as HIV/Aids, health and sanitation.
Richard brings the organisational, financial and communications expertise of a FTSE CEO, along with a personal hands-on interest in building, engineering and woodwork. Kay has already had significant experience as a volunteer across a number of community organisations in the UK and New Zealand, and, as a teacher of PE and English as a foreign language, is well-placed to support education projects for Concern Universal.
Richard and Kay's own strong Christian faith was a key factor in the decision they have made.
"All of our lives we have had an active faith," said Kay. "I have been working with the School of Urban Mission so I am able to teach English as a second language. Other voluntary work shows a huge variety of needs in the UK especially inner cities; however Africa is on our hearts."
Since moving to London a few years ago, the couple have mainly been involved at Holy Trinity, Brompton.
"There has been a lot of prayer support towards our decision making and I am sure they will be continuing interceding for us," explained Kay.
Little-known in the UK, Concern Universal’s mission is to deliver sustainable change that enables people in developing countries to improve their lives and shape their own futures. It has over 500 staff and volunteers that work with partners across the globe to facilitate development and emergency work which reaches more than 1.5 million people per year in some of the world’s poorest countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Richard said: “We are in the fortunate position of having both the energy and freedom to take the gap year we never had – this is a timely opportunity for us to live and work for a substantial period in Africa. In the financial services industry we worry about people living longer and out-living their savings. In Malawi, the problems are very different. Life expectancy is estimated to be about 37 years and decreasing.
“We looked at volunteering our services to a number of organisations but it was the nature and scale of Concern Universal that appealed to us; the chemistry with the people was good, its cost effective reputation in developing countries excellent; it was large enough for us to make a genuine contribution, but at the same time had the feel and personal approach of a smaller organisation that we were looking for. Their down-to-earth approach will give us the insight and practical experience needed to make a meaningful contribution to the charity sector in the longer term.”
Dr Ian Williams, Executive Director of Concern Universal, said: “Concern Universal is well known in parts of Africa, but not so well known in the UK. We’re delighted that Richard and Kay have chosen us as their charity in a field where there are other, more high profile charities that they could have chosen.
“Partnerships with the corporate sector are increasingly important for organisations like ours, and it is a great opportunity for us to share our work with Richard and Kay. More and more people like them are taking a gap year much later in life and we hope to provide Richard and Kay with a hands-on and inspiring experience that will encourage others to follow suit. They will be facing some uncomfortable issues, and will no doubt raise some challenging questions. We will learn a lot from each other and it will help us engage much more effectively with businesses and business people in future.”
Based in the UK, with its co-ordinating office in Hereford, Concern Universal (CU) was established in 1976 and is an international relief and development charity. CU’s mission is to support practical actions that enable people to improve their lives and shape their own futures.
Richard and Kay Harvey will be working with Concern International.