How to bookmark " Members of the Council"
You have arrived in Planet Burma. Would you prefer Planet Myanmar?
If so, please click HERE.

Planet Burma - Members of the Council
Britain-Burma Society
Robert Gordon CMG, OBE
Members of the Council:
HE U Kyaw Zwar Minn
John Okell, Dr Soe Min Tun, Tony Cantor, Daw Tin Tin Sann , Barbara Brown, Dr Daw Tin May Aye, Alex Bescoby, Richard Blurton, Vicky Bowman, Dr William Crawley, Patricia Herbert, Daw Kyi Kyi May, Diana Millington, Daw Tin Tin Myaing, Mike Springate, May Tha-Hla , Justin Watkins, Keith Win
The Council can be contacted on
John Okell - Chairman
Lecturer in Burmese at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London University from 1959 to 1999 - where he passed on his enthusiasm to many groups of students. He has also taught short courses in the USA and Thailand.

Experience of Burma: one year each in 1960-61 and 1969, and shorter visits in subsequent years. Author of several Burmese language teaching courses and papers on Burmese language and literature. Known among Burmese computer users as the designer of the Avalaser Burmese font.

Winner of the 1996 Tuttle Grand Prize for an all-audio Burmese language course. Keen on language teaching, grammar, cycling and playing the viola (though not all at the same time). Married to Sue, with two children.

Dr Soe Min Tun
Deputy Chairman

He was Hon Treasurer from 2000 to 2014.

Consultant in Electronics, specialising in antenna systems for radar and telecommunications.

He was born in Rangoon and studied at Queen Mary College, University of London.

He is also active in the field of information technology as a software developer.

His other interests include badminton, hockey, cosmology and science fiction.

Married to Lizzy - three children.

Daw Tin Tin Sann
She was born in Thayet Myo, Burma. Studied at Methodist English High School, Rangoon Arts and Science University and Matran College London. After teaching at the RASU Botany department for more than 13 years, moved to London and worked for the BBC World Service for nearly 22 years as Relationship Marketing Manager WS and a Broadcaster at the Burmese Section. Now a full time artist and has a studio in Elephant and Castle.

She studied under well known Burmese and Chinese artists and is one of the pioneers of the young avant-garde Art movement in Burma. She was the President of Rangoon Arts and Science University, Art Society for 10 years.

She is now based in Hampstead and married to Dr. Salman Raschid.

Barbara Brown
Took over the role of Membership Secretary from Derek Brooke-Wavell in October 2009.

She was born in Rangoon and came to the UK at the age of 9. Still speaks fluent Burmese and is proud and passionate of her heritage. Regularly returns to Burma to see family and friends and to explore more of the country. Her father was Lt Cdr Htun Minn in the Burma Navy and was trained as a deep-sea diver in the US Navy. Her English mother worked in the BOAC. Her grandfather, U Thein Maung, was a Commissioner in the Chin Hills and her Uncle, U Htun Linn was in the People's Police Force.

Married to David - has 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren. Currently working in the NHS as a PA / Secretary

Tony Cantor
Meetings Secretary
Tony Cantor worked for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for 43 years, retiring in 2008. His first posting was to Rangoon, from 1968 to 1971. In that time he travelled to many areas of Burma, by road, river and rail.

Then followed postings to Japan, Ghana, Vietnam, Germany, Paraguay and Armenia, the last two as British Ambassador. His specialization is Japan, where he has spent a total of 14 years. He has been a Britain-Burma member as long as anyone can remember, but until retirement was not able to attend many meetings. He became Meetings Secretary at the start of 2011.

Married to Patricia, with three children and four grandchildren.

Ms Patricia Herbert
Books Editor
Patricia Herbert studied Southeast Asian history at the School of Oriental & African Studies and at the University of Michigan. She lived for three years in Burma in the 1970s and has made several return visits over the years. From 1975-1998 she was Curator of the Southeast Asia Collections of the British Library.

Her publications include articles and books on history and manuscript art of Burma as well as an annotated major bibliography of Burma (Oxford, ABC-Clio Press, 1991) and The Life of the Buddha (British Library Publications, 1993; new edition forthcoming from Pomegranate Press in 2005).

She now works as an independent scholar and researcher and is Vice-Chairman of the educational trust, Prospect Burma.

Since September 2009 she has been Books Editor of the Society.

Daw Kyi Kyi May
A former head of the BBC Myanmar section - the first Asian woman to reach that level. Born and educated in Yangon (MSc in Zoology) - later BA in PPH (London - Birkbeck College). A radio all-rounder known throughout Myanmar for her children's programme, as much as her current affairs interviews.

As "Paddybird Club" producer she took Myanmar children into the skies with her to learn hang-gliding - and, later, on regular "magic carpet" trips.

She is the moving spirit behind the annual Britain-Myanmar boat trip.

In recent years she has been intensifying her studies of Buddhism, and passed the Abidhamma (higher teachings of Lord Buddha) first level examination sponsored by the Myanmar Ministry of Religious Affairs in 2004.

Dr Daw Tin May Aye

She and her husband, Dr U Thet Tun, have worked as general practitioners in Britain for thirty years.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Among her interests she numbers Burmese culture, theatre and dances.

4 children - 10 grandchildren.

Alex Bescoby
Alex studied at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University, where he completed his thesis on the history of federalism in Burma.

In 2008, he was awarded the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) Global Leaders Scholarship for fieldwork in the borderlands of Thailand and Burma.

He is now an advisor to the international development community and global private sector on political and social issues affecting their activities in difficult environments.

He has lived and worked in Burma on a number of occasions, most recently for the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business. He is also a filmmaker, focused on raising awareness of Burma's incredible history in the UK.

Vicky Bowman

Former British Ambassador to Burma (2002-2006), and previously Second Secretary at the Embassy (1990-1993). Served six years in Brussels (1996-2002) including three years working for Chris Patten. Studied Burmese at SOAS in 1989-1990 with Anna Allott and U Khin (former BBS Deputy Chairman) who gave her her Sunday-born Burmese name, Ohnmar Khin.

She kept up her Burmese language by contributing to the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Lonely Planet Burmese phrasebook and translating many Burmese short stories and poems including Mya Than Tint's 'Tales Of Ordinary People' published by Orchid Press, Bangkok.

Now back in the UK with the Foreign Office and married to Burmese artist Htein Lin, with baby Aurora aka Ar Youn Lin, born in December 2007 and already a regular BBS meeting attender.

Dr William Crawley

BBC Burmese section head 1979 - 1984 - and through his vigorous efforts the department was saved from the Foreign Office axe.

Continued to take a close interest in Burma - and this Society - after his promotions to be Assistant Head, then Head, of Eastern Service (which embraced everwhere from Iran to Burma).

Diana Millington

Diana's father and grandfather both served in the Indian Civil Service in Burma between 1904 and 1941. She was conceived in Burma but born in India, where her mother escaped after the start of World War 2. After a childhood spent in South Africa and studies at the University of Cape Town and Oxford University, she began a career in English teaching, which was to prove globally useful when she and her late husband Graham were posted to various countries around the world with the British Council - culminating in Burma in 2000. Their time in Burma was so rewarding that they returned there for a further 6 months to work all around the country as post-retirement volunteer teacher trainers.

Since then Diana has maintained close contact with Burmese friends, and returns for a month every year, teaching at the Buddhist Monastery School in Mandalay, where she built a library in 2002. She also collects books in the UK to send to impoverished students in Burma. She is moderator of the Travel Advice Forum on the Society's web site.

Daw Tin Tin Myaing ("Brenda")

Daughter of Professor Pe Maung Tin, who had pioneered the faculty of Burmese language and literature at Rangoon University - and niece of the scholar GH Luce.

Brenda was herself a pioneer - in the French language and literature , which she studied as a State Scholar at the Sorbonne, and later taught at the Foreign Languages Institute in Rangoon (1967-1980). She also taught Burmese at the University of Paris.

Since then she has been in the UK raising three children, working as a librarian, and latterly translating and doing educational research. A socially-oriented "ideas person" within the Society, she is also sometimes able to supply members with copies of new publications about Burma.

Mike Springate

Retired executive, British Airways and Civil Aviation Consultant.

MA, D.Phil., Fellow CLIT & RAS. Widower, one son who lives and works in Berlin (as anchorman for DW TV).

Regional manager for BOAC in the Far East 1970-76 when my territory included Burma, which I visited as often as possible.

Link to Anglo-Thai Society (Executive Council member). Interests: Treasurer, Association of European Journalists; birds - guide at London Wetland Centre [WWT]; writer (mainly poetry), cricket & world-wide traveller.

Daw May Tha-Hla
May was born in Rangoon to Rangoon University Rector Dr. Tha-Hla, educated at Methodist English High School, then exiled in the UK from 1963 till 1993.
Armed with a degree in Psychology from the University of Warwick, after a stint as a Prison Psychologist in HM Prison Service, May decided that a career in qualitative research was more her calling. Her qualitative career spanned over 30 years, running her own company.

Since Cyclone Nargis in 2008, with her husband Jon Wilkinson, she founded the charity Helping The Burmese Delta which works in the remotest parts of the Ayeyarwaddy division, building elementary schools, running a free high school tuition and boarding facility, and many other educational and developmental projects focussed on the delta.

She has also recently become a Trustee for the eTekkatho Foundation, an initiative encouraged by Aung San Suu Kyi, to bring digital information libraries to Myanmar universities, other educational institutions and local libraries.

Dr Justin Watkins
Justin Watkins is Senior Lecturer in Burmese and currently Head of the South East Asia Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London, where he also teaches Khmer and Phonetics.

After a BA in Chinese and Russian at Leeds University, he arrived at SOAS in London to take an MA in Phonetics, and learnt Burmese with John Okell before starting research on the Wa language in Burma and Yunnan in preparation for a PhD in Phonetics at SOAS. He has visited Burma regularly since 1997.

Current research interests include the Wa Dictionary Project, phonetics and linguistics of Burmese and other South-East Asian languages, especially minority languages. Most recently, he has become interested in the languages of the Deaf communities in Burma, who use a number of number of interrelated sign-languages.

Extra-curricular interests include singing, running, cycling and walking. He lives in Brixton.

Keith Win
Keith was born and brought up in Burma and went to Methodist English High School, now known as Dagon 1, which DASSK also attended. He is fluent in Burmese and had his Shinpyu (novation ceremony at the age of 13), together with his four brothers at a Monastery close to Shwedagon Pagoda. The local villagers always feted them with Soon (food) at every early morning round (5am).

Keith's father trained at Scotland Yard where his parents met. On his father's side he can trace the family tree back to the time of King Thibaw. An ancestor served as Treasurer and on occasions, foreign affairs on behalf of the King. His grandfather was District Commissioner and both his uncles were in the Police; one was Commissioner and the other Deputy Inspector General. In those days the DIGs were more powerful than Military Area Commanders. Both uncles were involved in the investigation into the assassination of General Aung San.

Keith is a Chartered Accountant and worked extensively in financial services.