Our directors, staff and volunteers have different backgrounds, beliefs and values, but all of them are passionate about their help to St Gregory’s. In the UK we have one full-time employee, Julia Ashmore so we rely greatly on the generosity of our directors and volunteers who help with fundraising, translating, and in other ways.
Our founder patron
The late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO
Nicholas Kolarz, Chair
Owner and managing director of the Central Europe Consultancy, Nicholas devotes the majority of his time to St Gregory’s acting as Chair of the charity and providing solid advice and guidance regarding strategy and promotion of the charity. With his family roots in Russia and many years of business experience in Eastern Europe he has a visionary understanding and a passion for supporting local initiatives of our partners in St Petersburg and Tbilisi.
Tania Illingworth (nee Tolstoy), main fundraising volunteer
A long-standing volunteer-fundraiser and Director of the charity, Tania loves Russia with all her heart and promotes the charity’s work here in the UK. A skilled communicator, she helps expand our supporters’ network on all levels here in the UK and builds local contacts in Russia where she travels regularly with her most interesting cultural tours. As she says in her own words “I am proud to be a director of St Gregory’s – this small charity has an unparalleled success record in post-Soviet Russia”.
Simon is a chartered accountant who has specialised in private client matters throughout his career – at Deloittes where he qualified and then for over 30 years at Rawlinson & Hunter where he was a partner until 2017. Thereafter he has been a consultant at Smith & Williamson (now Evelyn Partners) where he still works with a number of clients part time.
Simon has been a trustee of a number of charities -mainly those connected with the Orthodox faith. He remains however the chairman of a charity raising funds to assist children suffering from leukaemia and other cancers in Russia called Gift of Life, and he remains a trustee of an academic members charity, ‘The Ecclesiastical History Society’. The main charities he is involved with now are the Parish of St Nicholas in Oxford, the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge and the Foundation established by the late Metropolitan Kallistos Ware to conserve his library and his academic work. Simon is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and a founder member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. He is also a member of the Charity Law Association.
“I am a retired teacher living in Chester and first became involved with SGF through a pilgrimage to Kondopoga from Chester Cathedral, in 2007. I was so impressed by what I saw there that I wanted to help and when we set up a fundraising programme to raise money I quickly became involved. I became the fundraising coordinator in 2009 and I now coordinate all mission fundraising in the cathedral, which includes Kondopoga, which I have visited four times. The two churches are now linked, which is very special as Kondopoga is the only Russian orthodox parish linked with a Church of England cathedral. As a new director of SGF I hope to further my involvement with Kondopoga and strengthen the bond of friendship we have developed.”
St Gregory’s Director and financial advisor provides sound advice regarding all aspects of the financial activity of the charity. He has worked with companies ranging from start-ups to multinationals, predominantly in the SME sector in property and financial services. He has been in charge of finance and administration as well as involved in business development, acquisitions, strategy and helping to grow businesses. His expert opinion contributes to the financial stability of the charity.
Luke has been involved with St Gregory’s Foundation since he volunteered in St Petersburg in 2010 with one of the charity’s former projects. He remained in touch with the charity, volunteering at events and helping with translation and interpretation, before being invited to join the board in 2019. One of his highlights of working with the charity so far was supporting a visit of four Russian colleagues from Kondapoga to the UK. Luke is particularly interested in expanding the charity’s reach on social media. He was previously chair of a small children’s charity, which he remains involved in, and by day works in the civil service.
Vivian Wright, Acting Treasurer
Vivian has been at the heart of the charity’s activities over the last few years. Now a Director, she remains a devoted supporter and brings on board her passion for the charity, strategic vision, clear thinking and analytical skills. Vivian says “Our partners in Russia and Georgia are so full of energy and hope; they show us how much can be done with very little”
Julia Ashmore, Executive Secretary
“Our supporters form the bedrock of our organisation. They are the driving force behind all that we do.”
Sarah Gale, Online Fundraising (freelance)
“It’s exciting to be part of something which is changing lives for good.”
Theresa has a Russian grandmother and deep connections with Russia. She was a founding director of the BEARR Trust in the early 1990s and helped deliver much needed pharmaceuticals to Russian hospitals. In 1997 she founded Volga Linen, the company she runs today. Volga Linen works with a non-profit factory in Russia which produces embroidery designs using traditional methods, keeping skills alive and employing 50 women.
Theresa says, “I feel very strongly that healthy links with Russia are most important and the work of St Gregory’s Foundation admirably shares skills and expertise with well -chosen Russian organisations that benefit hugely from the generosity of the many friends of St Gregory’s Foundation. I feel very honoured to be connected with such a successful and caring organisation which over the years has brought positive change to so many of the most vulnerable people in Russia”.