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Planet Myanmar - Members of the Council
Britain-Myanmar Society
Robert Gordon CMG, OBE
Members of the Council:
H.E. U Kyaw Myo Htut
John Okell, Dr Daw Tin May Aye, Dr Soe Min Tun, Barbara Brown, Tony Cantor, Anna Allott, Vicky Bowman, Derek Brooke-Wavell, William Crawley, Patricia Herbert, Ralph Isaacs, Daw Kyi Kyi May, Diana Millington, Daw Tin Tin Myaing, Justin Watkins.
The Council can be contacted on
John Okell - Chairman
Lecturer in Myanmar 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 Myanmar: one year each in 1960-61 and 1969, and shorter visits in subsequent years. Author of several Myanmar language teaching courses and papers on Myanmar language and literature. Known among Myanmar computer users as the designer of the Avalaser Myanmar font.

Winner of the 1996 Tuttle Grand Prize for an all-audio Myanmar 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 Daw Tin May Aye
Deputy Chairman

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 Myanmar culture, theatre and dances.

4 children - 10 grandchildren.

Dr Soe Min Tun
Hon Treasurer

Treasurer since Nov 2000.

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

He was born in Yangon 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.

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

She was born in Yangon and came to the UK at the age of 9. Still speaks fluent Myanmar and is proud and passionate of her heritage. Regularly returns to Myanmar to see family and friends and to explore more of the country. Her father was Lt Cdr Htun Minn in the Myanmar 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 currently working in the NHS as a PA / Secretary

Tony Cantor
Meetings Secretary
Tony Cantor worked with the British Foreign Office for 43 years, retiring in 2008. His first posting was to Yangon, from 1968 to 1971. In that time he travelled to a great many areas of Myanmar, by road, river and rail.

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

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 Myanmar 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 Myanmar as well as an annotated major bibliography of Myanmar (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 Myanmar.

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

Mrs Anna Allott, OBE
Hon Sec from 1980 till the end of 1996.

Lecturer in Myanmar at SOAS 1954 till 1990.

Started studying Myanmar in 1952, at the age of 22. First visit was for nine months from Oct 53, to learn the language, and has visited again in 1976, 81, 83, 85, 86, 88, 93, 95 and 98, 2003 (twice), 2005.

Since retiring from SOAS she has written a great number of articles and papers on modern Myanmar literature.

She was married to Tony - formerly professor of African Law at SOAS, who died in 2002. They have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. Other interests include translating Myanmar short stories, "running societies", gardening; also keeping up with other languages (Russian, Czech, French) - her mother was from Czechoslovakia.

She was awarded an OBE in the 1998 New Year Honours "for her services to British Burmese relations".

Vicky Bowman

Former British Ambassador to Myanmar (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 Myanmar 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 Myanmar language by contributing to the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Lonely Planet Burmese phrasebook and translating many Myanmar 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.

Derek Brooke-Wavell

He was Hon Secretary of the Britain-Myanmar Society from 1997 to 2010. Before that he was Head of BBC Myanmar Section 1984-1994 - a period of much change.

Studied Chinese at Oxford (1961).

Passions include photography and computers (Apple Mac and PC). The design of this web site is his responsibility. Edited and published Lines from a Shining Land in 1998 and Hurled into the World (2004).

Dr William Crawley

BBC Myanmar 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 Myanmar - and this Society - after his promotions to be Assistant Head, then Head, of Eastern Service (which embraced everwhere from Iran to Myanmar).

Ralph Isaacs, OBE

Ralph Isaacs first visited Myanmar in 1984, and from 1989 to 1994 was Director of the British Council in Yangon.

He and his wife Ruth were captivated by Myanmar arts and crafts, and collected lacquerware mostly in Bagan. Their collection was donated in 1998 to the British Museum, who responded by putting together a special exhibition in 2000 Visions from the Golden Land: Myanmar and the Art of Lacquer, the first major exhibition in London devoted to Myanmar art since 1826.

The show travelled to Exeter, Bath and Sunderland. The catalogue, co-authored by Ralph and Richard Blurton, and published by the British Museum Press, includes an essay on Ralph's special interest -- the inscriptions which appear on lacquerware, added by makers, sellers and owners. Ralph has also studied sazigyo, Myanmar text-woven bands for binding bundles of palm-leaf manuscripts. These little masterpieces of weaving may have a text several metres long, and are sometimes signed by the women weavers of 100 years ago.

Ralph has helped to organise very entertaining 'Antiques Roadshows' for the BBS.

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.

Diana Millington

Diana's father and grandfather both served in the Indian Civil Service in Myanmar between 1904 and 1941. She was conceived in Myanmar 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 Myanmar in 2000. Their time in Myanmar 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 Myanmar 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 Myanmar. 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 Myanmar language and literature at Yangon 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 Yangon (1967-1980). She also taught Myanmar 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 Myanmar.

Dr Justin Watkins
Justin Watkins is Senior Lecturer in Myanmar 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 Myanmar with John Okell before starting research on the Wa language in Myanmar and Yunnan in preparation for a PhD in Phonetics at SOAS. He has visited Myanmar regularly since 1997.

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

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