After six highly successful years as the CEO of the Said Foundation and the Said Business School Foundation, sadly Neville McBain has decided to move on to a new career challenge.
Neville joined us when the conflict in Syria was in its first months and has been responsible for supporting the Chairman’s personal commitment and determination to help the people of Syria, by leading the Foundation’s strategic and operational response which to date has seen over £15m of grant funding in support of the most vulnerable Syrians. Neville was one of the first charity donor representatives to visit Zaatari camp in Jordan, following which the Chairman and trustees agreed to fund 500 pre-fabricated shelters (which were among the first at the camp) and funded a school for children with disabilities that is still running there.
Similarly he initiated the Foundation’s support in the informal settlements in north Lebanon and the Bekaa valley early in 2012, and the Foundation was soon supporting the education of Syrian refugees and a mobile clinic for disabled and wounded young people. Education has been a consistent priority of trustees to help reduce the impact of a “lost generation” and, by helping to assess needs and to identify partners, Neville enabled the Foundation to provide support for schools in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. We also became the first Foundation to support scholarships for Syrian refugees to attend universities in Jordan and Lebanon, over 300 to date, many of whom we hope will be Syria’s future leaders when reconstruction and reconciliation can begin, through Neville’s recommendation to support UNHCR’s DAFI programme. He also helped initiate the Foundation’s support for hospitals in Syria at Bab al Hawa, Aleppo and Homs, showing a high level of commitment and determination by visiting the hospital at Bab al Hawa at some personal risk, in order to be able to brief the Chairman on the service it was providing.
That commitment to Syria extended to Neville’s personal life when he and his three sons climbed Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike, the three highest mountains in Scotland, Wales and England in under 24hrs, raising £12,000 for a charity providing prosthetic limbs for Syrian children.
Neville has shown great personal commitment and ambition for the work of the Said Foundation, not only through his leadership of our Syria programme but also by helping to assess and interview each of our hundreds of Scholarship applicants every year and by overseeing the Foundation’s support for the Said Business School at Oxford University.
The Chairman, trustees and staff are very grateful and sorry to see him leave, and wish Neville all the very best for the future.