Thank you – a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me on the trip to Madagascar a few years back … I sit here now the mother of my own little person (Hope now 13 months old) and it makes me realise how important these donations were and how very much we take for granted here in the UK… Hope will go to a primary school and will have books and shoes unlike so many of the children in Madagascar. I’d also like to thank St George’s Church in Chesterton for their support with fund raising and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band member, Jake Clemons, for his love and his wonderful acoustic concert in Cambridge in aid of our fundraising effort.

I received the following email from Brian Donaldson the head of the Madagascar Development Fund (who were supported by Kitchen Table Charities Trust)

“Dear Ellie
After you and Roy visited Madagascar in 2010 you very kindly raised £2,000 towards the cost of one of the Madagascar Development Fund’s primary school projects… the donations made by you, St George’s Church and Mr and Mrs Thorpe (also made after visiting Madagascar) were used – on a project to build new classrooms at Tsaratanana Primary School in central Madagascar which was damaged by a cyclone.

I am pleased to tell you that thanks to your support the work has now been completed, and the new school building is in full use after its inauguration in January. I attach to my next e-mails photographs taken at the inauguration – which I hope will be of interest to you.

On behalf of the children of Tsaratanana… and my colleagues here at the Madagascar Development Fund I send you our sincere and heartfelt thanks for the significant contribution your donation has made both to increasing the school’s capacity – by creating additional places for children unable to receive an education, and greatly improving conditions at the school.”

Brian attached the following pictures to his email from the inauguration in December … they made me cry, not with pride but with humility … it really doesn’t take alot to change lives and so much that we take totally and utterly for granted or that we waste on absolute rubbish could do a great deal to transform other communities.

You can donate direct to MDF

or to the Kitchen Table Charities Trust who support projects like this throughout Africa and South America

Tsaratanana Primary School in Madagascar

Tsaratanana Primary School in Madagascar

Inside the classroom at the inauguration of Tsaratanana Primary School.

Inside the classroom during the inauguration of Tsaratanana Primary School.












If you are interested in following what else I’ve been up to since the trip to Madagascar you can visit my site Mush Brained Ramblings.

Thank you again to those that sponsored me and gave me the courage to go on the adventure that has ultimately changed not just my life but hundreds of lives in Tsratanana.






I haven’t updated this blog for a little while as I’ve been all busy being distracted by being pregnant … all very exciting and also tiring and nerve wracking as well …

Had IVF in May, it worked … first time which was a miracle … and despite a very difficult time things seem to be creeping forward and all being well the baby is due at the end of January.

Do please follow Kitchen Table Charities Trust on Twitter
on Facebook

and the website

I will be back here from time to time to update with news … all is going well in Madagascar with MDF … some wonderful projects supported and Brian and Nicole work toward their aim of getting the much needed additional 300 primary schools.

Most importantly you can donate online to the Kitchen Table Charities Trust directly via this link

Delivering two lectures in the coming weeks … one at Net2Camb and one at Cambridge University to the MBA course.

Quite nervous as want to ensure that I do my best for those hoping to glean some pearls of wisdom but also to try and leverage a little more funding for Kitchen Table Charities Trust.

Pondering specifically, the use of social media for fundraising and building brand awareness. Had an interesting chat the other week with John Humphrys (KTCT’s founder and Radio 4 presenter, Mastermind chair etc) and although he personally isn’t a ‘fan’ of social media and doesn’t use it in the way his colleagues at the Today programme do, he does recognise that the slow and steady drip of small donations to KTCT has increased since we started using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word of the life changing benefit of small grants.

Also had an interesting meeting with Howard Lake, the founder of Fundraising UK who has spent the last 11 years working with the Internet to help smaller charities leverage funds.

There are quite literally tens of thousands of charities in the UK alone … too many perhaps or too many gaps that people saw needed filling. In this competitive space at a time when people’s back pockets are increasingly empty and against a backdrop of massive disasters such as Haiti and Japan it is easy for the work of tiny charities to go unnoticed and for sources of funding to dry up…

Hence the value of using the Internet …

right … research to be done before Net2Camb on 24th May and Cambridge University on 1st June.

I have a remarkable friend … well I say friend, we haven’t met face to face in about 7 years, but we talk on Facebook and Twitter and keep tabs of each other’s lives.

Her name is Lindsey Annison, she like so many others was shell shocked and appalled at the human suffering endured as a result of the Japan earth quake and the subsequent tsunami. She is a social media guru, a relentless campaigner for fibre to the home and rural broadband and has done so much already in her life for others … with Quakebook, she responded to a call that went out across Twitter in the aftermath of the earthquake and has worked flat out ever since with other twitterers across the world to make Quakebook a reality.

“A Twitter-sourced charity book about how the Japanese Earthquake at 2:46 on March 11, 2011 affected us all. All revenues from the QuakeBook Book go to the Japan Red Cross”

The book will go on sale shortly … please consider buying a copy… all the proceeds go directly to those delivering the aid, not a penny goes to the people behind the book. Every element of it’s research and publication has been sourced via social media; concept, artwork, stories, pictures, translations, layout etc etc etc - A Twitter-sourced charity book about how the Japanese Earthquake at 2:46 on March 11 2011 affected us all. Raising money for the Japan Red Cross.

The QuakeBook website is at …you can read very moving extracts from the many stories already contributed, and you can read about across the media, but this article by BBC tech correspondent and all round good bloke Rory Cellan-Jones ( @ruskin147 ) is a pretty good one

Please buy a copy of this incredible book … it is a piece of history on so many levels

some twitter accounts to follow
@ourmaninabiko the man behind the whole idea
@digitaldales Lindsey Annison’s own twitter account

So they have made the process of applying for an Indian visa alot more complicated … went in queued up, having filled in the epic form online, was told they can’t do it in one day any more so have to wait and monitor online and hope …


slightly anxious it won’t be ready for my flight on Monday and without a passport I won’t be going anywhere …

Very much looking forward to watching Attenborough narrating the wonderful new series of programmes on Madagascar starting on 9th February.

“Madagascar explores the extraordinary wildlife and dramatic landscapes of this bizarre and fascinating island. Using the latest in filming technology, the series tells the story of Madagascar’s diverse and rare wildlife – some filmed for the first time.”

Broadcast Dates
• Episode 1: “Island of Marvels”, 8.00 –9.00pm, BBC Two, Wed 9 Feb
• Episode 2: “Lost Worlds” 8.00 –9.00pm, BBC Two, Wed 16 Feb
• Episode 3: “Land of Heat and Dust” 8.00 –9.00pm, BBC Two, Wed 23 Feb

For more information about the programme have a look here on the Bradt site

and don’t forget that this beautiful island needs support … and I’m still fundraising for Kitchen Table Charities Trust

Busy week this week and just this morning I opened a large parcel from John Humphrys containing several signed copies of his books to auction to raise dosh for KTCT at St George’s Church.

The week has been quite an emotional roller coaster, Tuesday night saw the PESGB having the first in a series of Annual Stoneley Memorial Lectures – the inaugural lecture was delivered by Julian Rush from Channel 4 news – all about climate change and geology and the exploitation of the earth … lots of Daddy’s friends all very moving and hugely emotional to see a vast photo of him blown up the size of a cinema screen as we, the family, sat slightly awkwardly in the front row looking up.

However, that got me thinking about Madagascar and the impact of the strip farming and the deforestation on the land there – the short term need for income and food weighed against the longer term sustainability of farming and livelihood. The problems there could so easily be avoided by education, improved infrastructure and a better political situation for so many who eak out a day by day hand to mouth existence… in the meantime the massive benefit of even the smallest of small grants is huge. How can it be that so many people surrounded by lush productive land can be without food and without access to running water …

In the middle of the week I met with a wonderful lady called Pam Davies, the head of fundraising for Cambridge University, and she has invited me to work with her for a part of a lecture course next year, to use MDF and KTCT as case studies so that brilliant young minds can consider the challenges of volunteer led tiny charities and conjure some cunning plans … I am tremendously excited about this opportunity. Not least as it draws yet more attention to the needs of countries like Madagascar where the simple thirst for learning is so often unquenched. I believe that the well educated minds of the Cambridge students will be able to do much to enable education for those in Africa not yet able to access it.

Right then – in the meantime I need to set to planning the fundraising evening for KTCT and MDF at St George’s church … telling stories, showing film and auctioning books – oh and hopefully selling a few Mafana bags.

Thanks also to Tanita, Jean, Howard and Ron for your donations on … and to those who haven’t yet donated – all money goes straight to KTCT I’m heading towards £2,000 which means a new school WITH a tap .. just think what can be done with £5,000. Please do think about sticking your paw in your pocket and donating. THANKYOU.