Our board

Our board of directors bring a wealth of skills and experience to guide our focus.

Heather Cubie SQUARE

Heather Cubie


Professionally, Heather was a consultant Clinical Scientist in the NHS, based in Laboratory Medicine and R&D Director of NHS Lothian. These senior positions meant she acquired a wide range of relevant skills from training of scientists to diagnostic virology, from change management to employee relations, from financial management to research facilitation. Heather has always appreciated the strengths of the Scottish NHS and promoted a collaborative culture for better outcomes. She lobbied for a national HPV Reference Laboratory to complement national introduction of HPV vaccine and changes to the cervical screening programme. She founded a national HPV reference laboratory, set up a Scotland-wide network of HPV investigators and established a national sample archive, the combination of which has meant that Scotland is a world leader in vaccine effectiveness and HPV expertise.

She is currently a Senior Advisor to the Global Health Academy and Honorary Professor in University of Edinburgh and also actively involved in the Scottish Global Health Collaborative as a champion for volunteering from retired healthcare staff.

Since retirement, Heather has been actively involved in cervical cancer screening and treatment in Malawi, which has one of the highest incidences and the highest mortality of cervical cancer in the world. A Scottish Government grant from 2013-2016 allowed her and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and across NHS Scotland to establish a same day ‘screen and treat’ programme in NKhoma CCAP Hospital, which reached 17,000 women who had never been able to access cervical screening and led to 70% of women with early lesions receiving same day treatment.

She is passionate about the respectful and truly reciprocal partnership developed with Nkhoma, in keeping with SMP partnership principles and which led to close involvement with the SMP through membership of the Board which she saw as an effective mechanism to advance valuable links and develop lasting friendships. She has just started her second term and will continue to be an active contributor to Board activities and a member of both the HR and Audit & Finance sub-committees.

With her colleague Dr Christine Campbell as lead, she has been awarded a new Scottish Government grant (2018-2023) to expand the successful Nkhoma programme to other regions of Malawi, together with development of a mentoring programme which should result in a sustainable national network of screening providers.

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Douglas Young

Co-Vice Chair

Douglas currently works as a marketing consultant for Orbis Expeditions, one of our members, who specialise in delivering bespoke visits to Malawi. He is also involved in initial teacher education as an Associate Tutor at the University of Glasgow.

His connections with Malawi began a good few years ago when, as Headteacher of Beath High School in Cowdenbeath, he was instrumental in establishing a link with a school in Malawi to help, amongst other things, widen the horizons and global awareness of his pupils at Beath. Over the years and with the advice and support of the SMP this link became a real partnership - one that continues to thrive and prosper.

Retired now, Douglas is delighted to be a lifetime member of the Beath Malawi Partnership where he continues to work alongside former colleagues as well as enjoying many personal links with Malawi.

Douglas has been involved with the SMP for many years and was chair of the Education and Schools forum before becoming a Board member. Now that he is retired of course, as well as having more time for his mountain biking and running, he is enjoying having more time to give in support of the SMP.

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Susan Dalgety

Co-Vice Chair

Before visiting Malawi for the first time in 2005, Susan’s professional career was either in politics or journalism, sometimes both.

For the last 15 years, Malawi has been the main focus of her work, and she has visited at least once a year, for work and increasingly to spend time with friends.

She worked on the first bi-lateral agreement between our two governments, and from 2007 has been a freelance governance adviser, working with Scottish NGO the Active Learning Centre and its Malawi partner, the Women’ Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC).

In recent years Susan has worked with councillors in Malawi on two capacity building programmes, sharing her insights gained as a councillor in Edinburgh for seven years.

In 2019 she and her husband lived in Malawi for six months, researching a book, The Spirit of Malawi, which will be published in February 2021. She also filed a weekly column Letter from Malawi for the Scotsman. She still writes for the Scotsman every Saturday, on a range of topics.

Susan previously served as a board director for the Scotland Malawi Partnership for several years, and is a trustee of 500 miles and the McConnell International Foundation.

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Blessings Kachale

Blessings is a PhD student at Queen Margaret University studying International Health and Development, with a particular focus on elderly carers of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi. Blessings has been a Board member with four SMP members (Global Concerns Trust, Tearfund, StekaSkills and MIND), she has a wealth of knowledge about Malawi, the sector and Charitable Governance.


Gift Thompson

Gift is no stranger to the SMP, he has been a powerful supporter since he arrived to study in Scotland from Malawi. He has been an active member of the SMP Youth Committee and a regular youth spokesperson for the Partnership.

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Prof. John Briggs

John has had a key role in leading the University of Glasgow’s international development work and retired recently as the university’s Vice Principal. He is an informed and influential voice in the sector, with a continuing passion for Scotland’s links with Malawi.

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Tione Mtalimanja

Tione is a professional engineer and energy specialist with over 15 years of experience in the Electricity Industry in Malawi and the United Kingdom. He also has eight years experience in Rural Electrification in Malawi.

He is passionate about community development primarily focusing on clean energy access and economic empowerment. He has leadership experience both in his professional work as well as community and served both as a deacon and church elder in his congregation in Malawi.

Tione was also a board chairman for three years for the Multipurpose Church Hall, which was a fundraising arm of the congregation.

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Rachel Phillips

Rachel Phillips was born in Lilongwe Central Hospital in 1984 to Irish and Scottish parents who lived in Malawi from the 1960s to the 1990s. Rachel left Malawi when she was 11 but, like many displaced diaspora, became passionate about her original home and has travelled back 11 times.

Rachel's continued interest in Malawi, sub-Saharan Africa and politics, led her to take a couple of years out from medical training in Edinburgh, and between her second and third years she undertook an intercalated BSc at University College London where she was awarded First Class Honours in International Health.

Later on, before her final year, she spent a year in South Africa volunteering for Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) – the largest NGO in South Africa that campaigned for a national roll-out of anti-retroviral medication in the public sector during a period of governmental AIDS denialism.

She is now a GP in Edinburgh with an interest in medical education and postgraduate training in primary care.

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Prof. Jeremy Bagg

Professor Jeremy Bagg studied at Edinburgh University from 1975, completing his dental degree and PhD by 1982, after which he worked at Cardiff Dental School for eight years. He moved to the University of Glasgow in 1991, from which he recently retired after 16 years as Head of the Dental School. This role provided Professor Bagg with significant experience in the higher education and healthcare sectors, including at Government level.

Since 2016, he has worked with Dr Mwapatsa Mipando and colleagues at the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences to establish Malawi's first Dental School. Following a successful grant application for £1.3m to the Scottish Government, they established the Maldent Project (www.themaldentproject.com) in 2018. The new BDS programme launched in August 2019, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, they are finalising Malawi's first National Oral Health Policy. They have also established a Scottish charity, MalDent Student Aid, to support Malawian dental students.

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Davie Luhanga

Davie Luhanga offers vast experience, understanding and knowledge of Malawian culture. He has worked with several different groups and organisations in Malawi. This has continued through his six years of living in Scotland where he has been able to work with various youth groups, schools and organisations through his music. I has strong leadership skills and enjoys working with people from different nations and races.

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Tracy Morse

Tracy Morse has lived and worked in Malawi in public health research and higher education for the last 20 years, recently returning to Scotland with her family to a new role within the University of Strathclyde as Head of the Centre for Sustainable Development. Within both her professional and personal life she is still very much engaged with Malawi through both her academic work, and engagement with organisations such as FROM Scotland and Open Arms Malawi. Tracy is passionate about ensuring that we effectively support Malawi's development through the priorities of her citizens to help the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. Tracy's work has involved not only research which has provided evidence for Malawian policies and strategies, but she has also been a trusted voice with colleagues and the Government of Malawi in the development of strategies and training programmes at a national level. She is a strong believer in community led development models, which aim to understand and focus on the context and priorities of the population rather than donor imposed priorities using interdisciplinary approaches.

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Emma Wood

Emma Wood is chair of the charity STEKAskills and a senior lecturer at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh. STEKAskills (which won an SMP member award in 2019) is a small grassroots charity with a number of Malawians and members of the Malawian diaspora on the board. It has raised in excess of £80,000 in just two years to fund the development of a STEKA Centre for Vocational Skills and Community Enterprise just outside Blantyre, Malawi (the vision of Malawian social entrepreneur and children’s’ rights campaigner, Godknows Maseko). The charity focusses on building solidarity between communities in Scotland and Malawi. Working with a team of young poverty experienced people at the STEKA care home in Blantyre, and its leader, Godknows Maseko, Emma co-produced a new way for young Scots to interact with poverty experienced peers when they visit Malawi on school trips. This initiative attracted an international development grant from the Scottish Government and offers an innovative alternative to the voluntourism model often followed when young people travel to Malawi to ‘make a difference’.

The report evaluating the initiative shows that both the Malawians and young Scots found the experience of participating in the Dialogue Groups life changing and young Scots developed a deep understanding of resilience, the damaging impact of gender inequality, structural inequality and climate change.

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Sally Rae

Sally Rae first fell in love with Malawi in 2011 when Linda MacDonald (MUMS) encouraged her to consider Malawi as a venue for the GWC annual school trip. After two weeks’ visiting various MUM’s feeding stations, 500 Miles Clinic and a range of accommodation. Sally has since organised eight trips, each growing in popularity - now taking 44 pupils.

Sally spent an extended sabbatical with Open Arms in 2013 and since then has organised trips for adults who have been inspired to learn more about GWC's activities in Malawi.

Judith Turbyne

Judith Turbyne

Judith has spent the majority of their professional life working for, volunteering for or studying the charity and voluntary sectors and are driven by a passion for social justice. Judith initially volunteered in community development in Guatemala which started their journey working in international development and solidarity. This led me to working for Christian Aid in Latin America and the Caribbean before working as the CEO of Progressio Ireland (international development organisation).

Judith moved back to Scotland to be closer to family and spent eight years working as Head of Engagement with the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in which time they lead the Regulator’s work on Safeguarding, out of which came a new piece of guidance for the sector. They then went on to become CEO of Children in Scotland.

Judith has a PhD which explored empowerment in development and is currently deputy Chair of the Corra Foundation.

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John Fanning

John is a Chartered Accountant who has held senior finance and commercial leadership positions in a range of public and third sector/charity organisations here in Scotland and more widely across the UK.

John’s connection to Malawi dates back to 2011/12 when he had two spells totalling around four months working with a micro-finance charity in Malawi. His main work during this time was to help the organisation upgrade the finance systems and processes used to manage its loan portfolio.

John joined the SMP’s Audit & Finance Committee in 2012. He has been a trustee of a Scottish charity working in the social care sector since 2016.