Trustees and Patrons


Trustees are legally responsible for ensuring our charity works efficiently and effectively. SWVG trustees are elected by the members of SWVG at the AGM each year. They meet regularly. Contact the trustees by emailing .

Mark Courtice (Chair)

Until he retired in 2017, Mark Courtice had worked as Chief Executive at theatres including the Nuffield in Southampton, New Theatre Royal Portsmouth and the Theatre Royal Winchester. Mark has been a visitor with SWVG since 2012. A qualified teacher, he has been teaching English with SWVG for the last two years, and was elected as a SWVG trustee at the 2019 AGM and Chair at the 2021 AGM. Mark was previously an active visitor with the Haslar Visitors Group.

Judith Evans

Dr Judith Evans became involved in the work of SWVG, through her friendship with Iranian asylum seekers who spoke highly of the charity. She joined the reception desk team at AMC in 2022 and worked on the changes there as well as getting involved in the kitchen and teaching English. Her background is in education, initially training as a secondary Science teacher but then moving into senior leadership with responsibility as the Pastoral Lead and the Designated Safeguarding Lead. She is currently working full time so is unable to come to AMC, which makes her sad!

Katie Gearing

Katie has spent her career as a commercial lawyer for over 25 years, with experience at major law firms and as in-house counsel for a large, multi-national retailer. She lived in Hong Kong for 12 years until relocating in 2020 and recently moving to Winchester. 

Since returning to the UK, Katie’s focus has been more on the charity sector and trying to apply her skills in a different way to give something back to the local community. 

Claudia Glyn (Co-ordinator)

A German national, Claudia is the SWVG lead coordinator for the helpdesk team and visitors. A former teacher, she says she finds aspects of her role challenging, but very rewarding when you see an asylum seeker you support settle into a new life here.

Catherine Hartley (Vice-chair)

Before joining SWVG, Catherine taught French and German at all levels from beginners to A-level and university students. She joined SWVG in 2016 and trained as a visitor, with the intention of offering one-to-one tuition to clients with very low English language or literacy. She has now taught many SWVG learners with a variety of needs, and is Coordinator of the English Language and Literacy Teaching Team.

Sue Jessup

Since joining SWVG in 2015, Sue has been a visitor and a support coordinator for a hotel. She has helped to organise fundraising events and  activities for refugees and those seeking asylum.  Before retiring, Sue taught History and Politics in sixth form colleges for many years. 

David Robertson (Treasurer)

David wants to support asylum seekers and refugees who, as some of the most vulnerable people in the country, need assistance.  He is looking forward to personally giving practical help as well as being a Trustee.  David has retired from the NHS where he had over 20 years’ experience of board and senior management roles. He is a qualified accountant.

Jeyatharshan (Tharshan) Vettivel​

Being born and brought up in a war torn country, I have experienced the pain and the sufferings of refugees and asylum seekers, who are uprooted due to war and other kinds of political crisis in their own home land. I have been a beneficiary of SWVG since 2013 following which I am able to recover myself from the irrecoverable loss. I am forever grateful for this opportunity to join with SWVG to serve the people enabling them to make their life in a peaceful and independent manner.  Tharshan is in the SWVG Communications Group.

Our Patrons

We are most grateful to our wonderful patrons, who support us in so many ways.

Dr Shirley Firth

Shirley has worked for Oxfam, lived with German refugees in 1947, and as an academic has led fieldwork with British Asian communities. Her involvement with local refugees includes supporting Vietnamese families settled in Winchester and Kurdish asylum seekers on hunger strike in Winchester Prison during the 1980s. In 2001, she continued her work with asylum seekers detained in 10 local prisons. She played a major role in founding the Winchester Action Group for Asylum Seekers (WAGAS), later SWVG.

Miriam is well known as an actor, appearing on TV, radio, and in films, and in 2001 was awarded an OBE for her services to drama. As a member of a Jewish family that left Belarus to come to England, she has a long-standing commitment to refugees and asylum seekers. In 2009, she and some of her famous friends, including Stephen Fry and Sandy Toksvig, gave a sell-out performance at Winchester’s Theatre Royal. All gave their time free to support SWVG.

A Winchester-based travel writer and broadcaster, John has been called ‘one of Britain’s greatest tellers of travellers’ tales’. In 2006 he won a Royal Geographical Society award for popularising geography and the wider understanding of the world. Sheffield-born but now living in Hampshire, he often raises funds for SWVG by recounting his adventures, including crossing the Sahara by camel, going up the Mekong to Tibet, and travelling from Georgia to Afghanistan.