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"Smarter Aid, not more Aid!"

About Me

The inaugural AGM of the new local NGO for indigenous people in Mondulkiri, Cambodia. I am a bit too centre-stage for my liking, but they like it!

I am of course a long-time worker in international community development and human rights, but have come a long way from my Northumbrian origins.

I was born near Alnwick (so not quite a Lad of Alnwick), Northumberland in 1951; moved South to Leicester; next to Kingston-upon-Thames, and eventually the South-West of England, until my “itchy feet” took me to foreign climes in 1984. 


Lonhoughton Church of England Primary School Admission Register

These days, not being a great fan of long-haul travel, I spend my time between Northumberland and Cambodia, with stopovers.

Professionally I have always worked in and around how people relate to each other and work together. Whereas I started in local government in the UK concerned with efficiency and performance at work, I soon found that underlying factors were more interesting and challenging.  What is it that makes people motivated?  What differences do good and bad leaders make?  (I have met plenty of both kinds.)  How important are rights and a sense of justice, especially where those notions are not generally well-understood or respected?

Over the years I have gained some answers to these questions but for too many, especially vulnerable people, they can't ask questions or expect proper answers.  Anyway you can look me up on Linked-In, to follow my career, or access my latest short or full CV here. You may like to see "Inspirations" too.



This is one of my pictures of home town Alnwick, showing the War Memorial and the Percy Tenantry Column on the hill behind.  In some ways that monument is a clue to my life’s course.  The folklore story is that the column was built by grateful tenants of the Duke of Northumberland after he gracefully conceded to their pleas not to increase their rents.  So in his honour and to show gratitude to him, they erected the column.  Then, because the Duke thought that if they could afford to pay for that, they could afford higher rents, so he put them back up.  Hence the local name the “Farmers Folly!”  (Read Mal Davidson’s account on and see the great photographs.

Alnwick, Northumberland

By the way being a Longhoughton lad born, I can’t claim to be an Alnwick Lad unlike my elder brother, but well you’ll forgive me so you can hear the tune of this name by Kathryn Tickell on the Northumbrian Pipes!


This great map of my home district adorns the walls of the Plough Inn in Alnwick.  Judging by the features it must dated around the 1940s.  The distance between Alnwick tand Longhoughton is just 4 miles. 



Today in Cambodia and in many countries, we still see too many land conflicts and exploitation of both rural and urban poor.  You can read about some in Cambodia in blogs here.  Cambodia is associated with tragedy and yet as one US Ambassador warned (follow link but read all or scroll down to my comment), it is a place that you fall in love with - as my chums in Krom sing:

 I maintain one specialist website on indigenous people's issues; so also comment there on topical issues - click here to go there!

My Alnwicdotes (anecdotes) are usually lighter, entertaining stories, that usually have "development" aspects. A summary of them can be accessed here - scroll down the page, please.

And my passport pictures to give you a laugh, at my expense!
The Ravages of Time and a Lifetime of Woe!


Explanatory Notes

(1) Development Aid and Emergency Aid

Often the terms are mixed and inter-changed.  In fact "overseas aid" is usually a spectrum. At one end you have sudden needs after a natural or man-made disaster, right through at the other end, to trying to bring best international standards [of human rights and access to education, health, etc] in to countries judged to be lagging behind.  I have been responsible at both ends.  Most of my comments tend to relate to the second end where I think things can be and should be done much better see for example "Smarter Aid, not more Aid".

(2)  Freedom of Expression

As readers will see in my blogs and tweets I am a great supporter of freedom of speech.  The internet, with social media, is transforming the ability of Cambodians to receive and convey information. In the past, and in conventional media today, restriction or control of content is the norm.

Therefore I encourage comment and onward transmission of information.  I do give one warning.  There can be a paranoiac reaction to criticism in Cambodia that can even lead to defamation charges. The kind of robust exchanges exemplified so well, say in Australia, are just not yet acceptable.  It is best to refer to institutions; offices and titles, not to people by name. And certainly, the habit should be eliminated of adding quirky asides - regardless of relevance – such as the Prime Minister has lost an eye or was a former Khmer Rouge Commander.  If, however, someone has been singled out in public by the Prime Minister for castigation, then he or she does of course have the right to reply, and should be allowed to exercise it without penalty.

Normally I do not reply to comments that “shoot the messenger” instead of addressing coherently the message.  This is too common in social media.  I will not reply to people who hide behind a pseudonym, unless I know the person or know why they need to do this.

Answer to the Greggs' Test:

 "Other" and the reason is "Because this bakery gives better rewards than the other places to the taxi-drivers who take their passengers there.

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