Meet the team

   Ken Dunn MBE


Ken is the Founder & Chairman of Africa’s Gift. A long standing Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society and Earthwatch Millennium Fellow, he has a deep understanding of environmental issues and is a graduate Geographer and Geologist.

Throughout twenty-three influential years of teaching( the last six in Leadership) he has advised, prompted and cajoled successive governments on sustainable development matters and was briefly seconded to OFSTED to contribute to reporting on Education for Sustainable Development.

Officially recognised by three societies as an explorer Ken has visited most of the world’s major mountain ranges and biomes, leading school, youth and adult expeditions to many challenging but fragile environments.
Having been an Educational Visits Coordinator in two schools he understands what it takes to lead safe purposeful and powerful overseas visits.

A passionate non confrontational environmentalist Ken pulls together his skill set to work alongside groups in a growing number of African communities on sustainable solutions designed to improve livelihoods and nurture habitats.

His work was recognised in 2019 when Sheffield Hallam University bestowed upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Education. This honour has validated Ken's belief that empowering women, increasing the access of girls to education, and the introduction of the innovative thermal cooking bag (The Wonderbag) - are truly where his efforts should be concentrated.

His expertise in sensitively introducing the Wonderbag has also seen him deliver training to the trainers of the Malawi Red Cross in partnership with the International Federation of The Red Cross.  

Ken is a prize winning photographer, inspirational speaker and is available to engage with you should you wish to help!

Ken is also the founder of Eternal Flame Worldwide Ltd, a shared wealth company that enables organic heat retention cook bags to be made in communities where they are most needed.

Ken was awarded the Member of the British Empire in the 2022 New Years Honours for services to development and local communities in Lesotho and sub-Saharan Africa.

  Paul Keen

Paul K.jpgPaul first became involved with Africa's Gift through a working holiday to Malealea in Lesotho in January 2015.  He got to know the people and worked on projects initiated by the charity, and was inspired to help further.  Paul brings a background in governance, fundraising and strategic planning and is committed in particular to helping the charity secure new sources of funding to consolidate the development of the teaching farm in Malealea, to support improvements to schools and to support orphans to access education.  

Paul had a long career as a senior civil servant, largely focused on education, employment and training, including support for community development and procuring services from private and third sector organisations.  He is now retired and able to devote his energies to the further development of Africa's Gift, whilst also having the time to enjoy return visits to Malealea to help take our project work forward.

  Val Penycate

Val Pencycate.jpgI was born and raised in Hull but have lived in Rotherham for the last 40 years.  I spent 22 years teaching in a number of local Infant schools, and for 14 years prior to retirement, was part of the Senior Leadership Team in the position of Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator. I was also a mentor for students doing practical teacher training in the school. I have been a school governor for the last 5 years.

My husband had been involved with Africa’s Gift since it’s inception, and travelled to Lesotho several times mainly carrying out building projects for schools. So, when I retired in 2015, I decided to accompany him on his next visit. In 2016 we joined a visit to Malealea with the University of the Third Age when I had the privilege to visit a local preschool and primary school as well as become involved with groups of youngsters at the Community Centre doing craft work. During that trip I was taken to visit the Philisanong school which has a residential wing for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and orphans. A brief but very moving visit which led to the charity becoming involved in some building work to give the school a much needed physiotherapy room.

On returning I led a school assembly to inspire my former school to become involved and they have supported our work through  Happy Feet shoe collection days.

I am keen to make the work of Africa's Gift as powerful as possible.

 Teri Stephenson

Teri Stephenson.jpgTeri brings broad experience of charity management and leadership including strategic planning, financial management, fundraising, operations, business development and governance alongside a passion for supporting individuals and communities to achieve their aspirations.  Teri has worked in the charitable sector for the majority of her adult life and has worked in services for employment support, substance misuse, domestic abuse, homelessness, offenders, care leavers, sight loss and older people.  Teri is currently the CEO at Age UK Lancashire.

 Teri became involved with Africa’s Gift having seen their work first hand whilst holidaying in Lesotho in 2020.  Teri lived in Lesotho as a child and had gone back to Lesotho to share the magic of the country with her husband who had never visited, falling in love with the Country and the people all over again, she decided that she wanted to do more. 

  Michael Fletcher

Fletch2.jpgMichael spent 28 years working in the Financial Services industry and has significant experience in both process design and project management, along with managing budgets and teams.
A keen sportsman in his younger years, Michael played football, cricket and rugby, but as age has crept up on him he has become an avid cyclist.
Michael used this experience to work on projects in Romania for many years before starting to work with Africa's Gift. Michael is also a trustee with two other charities helping homeless and vulnerable individuals in York. 
Before becoming a trustee, Michael has worked with Africa's Gift on projects in Lesotho on several occasions, including the building of teachers' housing and developments on the teaching farm.


  Janet Chance

Janet Chance.jpg

Africa’s Gift has been known to me since I was young when the founder, Ken Dunn, gave a talk at my mother’s church and I received a beautiful hand painted notepad from Malealea in Lesotho. From then I have had Lesotho in my heart but never dreamt I might be lucky enough one day to visit let alone be actively involved.

There are many links in my life with Africa’s Gift that eventually drew me to this great charity. Many members and trustees have worked with my sisters and other family members over the years. The links got stronger when my nephew applied to go on a Partnership Impact Visit with his school to Africa, we fundraised for him to go, and he went on the visit whilst I still dreamed of going.

His trip opened the door for me to go on such a visit, which then led me to work and stay in the stunning Malealea village. I met the wonderful Basotho people, they welcomed me as a friend and from here I was privileged to become a trustee of Africa’s Gift.

Janet has over 20 years’ experience as an advisor to the IT sector. She has worked as a contracts lawyer for international & national law firms, and worked for and advised large multi-nationals. She has advised and led on multi-million pound IT implementations and successfully completed bespoke secondments. Janet brings her project management, people & mentoring skills and pragmatism to the board of Africa’s Gift.

At Africa’s Gift we pride ourselves on making the generous donations go a long way. We’re a small charity with a big heart.

  Helen Bailey

Helen Bailey.JPG

Helen has worked for the BBC for over 20 years as a radio producer. She is a keen sports fan and supports Sheffield United.

She became involved with Africa’s Gift having heard about the charity through her work.

She has visited projects in South Africa and Lesotho run by the charity and made radio pieces Which were broadcast on BBC Radio Sheffield speaking to community members about a variety of projects which Africa’s gift is working on. She has taken part in demonstrations of the Wonderbag and has visited the factory and where they are made and met the people who make them. She has also visited the teaching farm in Lesotho a couple of times and interviewed the people who live and work in Malealea.