" As you are aware, Tom Henderson, the founder and former chief executive officer of ShelterBox was dismissed on 24 July 2012. He appealed his dismissal and there has been some anticipation on the outcome of that appeal.
However, before I move to that, I want to give you an overview of ShelterBox and the
work it undertakes. This year alone, we have delivered more than £3 million of aid to
22 countries helping more than 8,000 families in need.
Our mission in Northern Iraq is bringing £750,000 of much needed winterised
shelter to families who have fled the civil war in Syria. There, our teams have heard
traumatic stories of families who escaped across the border and of the torture some
have endured. Our latest team arrived yesterday and we have seen how by the end
of this week, 400 families will have moved into our tents with roads, water, sanitation
and electricity installed.
We currently have other teams deployed in Cuba and Haiti assessing need following
SuperStorm Sandy, in Guatemala after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake and also
Nigeria, where there have been devastating floods. All of this work is carried out by
ShelterBox response team members, who volunteer their time to help others in need.
This is what ShelterBox is all about.
Our operations are at the forefront of all we do. The simple concept of a box
that contains everything that a family may need after they have lost their home,
resonates with every one of us. What would any of us do if we found ourselves in
Yet there is much more to ShelterBox.
- Leading high street store Topshop has in the last week named ShelterBox as its
charity of choice and has designed a range of friendship bracelets selling in stores
nationwide. For every £2 bracelet sold, ShelterBox will receive £1.
- We will soon be revealing the exciting news that we have been chosen by a
national daily newspaper as one its three Christmas campaign charities.
- We’ve just launched The Day The Sea Changed, the third in a series of books
aimed at primary school children to explore disasters and their concerns for others
- Our project partnership with Rotary International continues to provide service
opportunities for Rotarians around the world and is a key partnership in our
capacity to deliver aid rapidly and effectively
- ShelterBox, in the last two years, has made a significant contribution by putting
more than £4.5million in the local economy
And all this work continues with the support of our many partners and donors – from
our humanitarian colleagues across the world, to all our donors without whom, our
work would not be possible.
Special acknowledgement must go to the many ShelterBox supporters in our
heartland of Cornwall and the South West, they have been dedicated to the charity in
its growth from a concept into being a leader in responding to global disasters.
It is important to set out some context. The ShelterBox board of trustees are all
volunteers. We give our time and expertise freely.
Between us we have served over 20 years in upholding the statutory obligation that
falls to us, to protect all aspects of the charity. We are bound by UK charity law and
regulated by the Charity Commission.
Up to now, we have refrained from setting out the detail of the former CEO’s
dismissal allowing the internal appeal process to reach conclusion. It was set up as
an independent review of the whole case and had to be allowed to take its course.
You have now had time to read the serious incident report that the trustees
submitted to the Charity Commission on 8 August this year. The Commission states
that a charity must submit such a report, if the charity is at risk or there is a potential
risk, that will endanger or damage the business, assets, reputation or services of that
We undertook an investigation following an alleged breach of related party
transaction policy by Tom Henderson and his failure to protect the charity’s
intellectual property ownership. The outcome was that he was unwilling or unable
to understand or adhere to critical procedures, designed to safeguard the charity.
Alongside this was the necessity to report this to the Charity Commission – in
addition to reporting the incident, evidence would be needed of how the trustees
would be able to ensure that the charity was never exposed to such a risk again. The
trustees were in full agreement that Tom Henderson was no longer able to fulfil the
executive CEO role without posing a risk to the charity.
In spite of the need to reallocate executive powers, we valued his contribution both
historically and moving forward and as such tried to work with him from mid May
to create a substantial founder-presidential role. Over the following two months,
we believed we had reached a consensual solution in creating this role on at least
three occasions – including Tom Henderson announcing it to staff and on another
occasion signing an agreement on a change in role - but at every point that it came
to implement the plan it was reneged on with a clear indication that for him it was
CEO or nothing.
There were numerous attempts at negotiation but due to a breakdown in
relations and a loss of confidence and trust by the trustees in the CEO, the board
unanimously voted on 23 July that Tom Henderson could no longer remain as CEO
with immediate effect. Following legal advice, a letter was drafted dismissing Tom
Henderson as CEO but reaffirming the offer of a pivotal presidential role with the
offer being open until 27 July for consideration.
Initially it was accepted and then rejected, further negotiations took place to urge
Tom to accept this role but Tom indicated again on 2 August that he would only
stay on as fully executive CEO. This was simply not an option and an emergency
board meeting was held where the board accepted by a majority vote that no further
progress could be made and the offer of an ongoing role would be withdrawn.
DETAIL OF DISMISSAL
At every stage the board worked to uphold its legal obligation to protect the charity.
The trustees, having lost confidence in Tom Henderson’s ability to continue as CEO,
dismissed him for gross misconduct.
The basis for dismissal was made up of a number of factors including:
Failing to abide by the related party transactions policy; not giving an adequate
explanation of those transactions; neglecting the charity’s intellectual property rights,
and ultimately putting the charity at risk.
The appeal process has now concluded. The Board of Trustees has taken account
of the independent review of the case and upheld its original decision to dismiss Tom
Henderson as CEO.
Our work now continues to grow ShelterBox as the world leader it deserves to be in
bringing much needed shelter, warmth and dignity to families in their greatest time of
need. We have always had that vision for ShelterBox.
In any survival situation, the provision of shelter creates the will to survive and from
that flows the restoration of dignity and first steps along the path to recovery. And
that is what we do best and that is what we are going to do now – in working with
Syrian refugees and in Haiti, Nigeria, Guatemala and in any other country around the
world where people need our help.
Thank you and I’m happy to take questions. "