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20th April 2016
Founding Trustee Duncan Darroch-Thompson, set up The Jacaranda UK Foundation in March 2015, a charity which is based in Newmarket, Suffolk. He studied Mandarin at The University of Edinburgh and after receiving his Master’s degree from SOAS in London, Duncan worked in Mergers and Acquisitions in London and Shanghai. In 2014 he moved into Strategic Consulting with Bain & Co.
While volunteering at the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi for several months, teaching English, Mandarin, Music and Maths to students and helping the executive director develop a long-term vision for the senior school, the idea for the Jacaranda UK Foundation was born. A UK-based organisation with the main aim of supporting the provision of free education to Malawian children orphaned by AIDS.
Duncan is the driving force behind the Foundation, frequently in contact with the projects the charity supports in Malawi, to assess their needs and where they most need help. He recently organised a successful Scottish Reeling Ball in London which raised over £5,000 for the charity, involving everything from obtaining a license to sell alcohol to sweeping the floor after the event.
Duncan is also responsible for meeting and coordinating with potential donors, finding and applying for grants, and keeping the charity's online presence up to date.
When asked what he enjoys most about his position at Jacaranda UK Foundation, Duncan says he loves seeing how generous people can be when they realise the impact their money can have, whether it’s a £10 or a £5,000 donation, and then seeing the projects grow from concept stage to being fully functional as a result of that money.
One of Duncan’s greatest achievements was raising £6,000 in 30 days to drill and build a solar-powered well for the school. The school used to depend on the local water board, which would periodically turn off the water supply for days at a time on a whim. Now the school has unlimited clean, free water for drinking, washing and irrigating crops.
If he could work anywhere in the world, Duncan says it would be Shanghai, and luckily for him, it soon will be. His fiancée is based there, and he loves the vibrancy of the city.