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Planet Myanmar - Members of the Council
Britain-Myanmar 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, Diana Millington, Daw Tin Tin Myaing, Mike Springate, 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 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 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.

Daw Tin Tin Sann
She was born in Thayet Myo, Myanmar. Studied at Methodist English High School, Yangon 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 Myanmar Section. Now a full time artist and has a studio in Elephant and Castle.

She studied under well known Myanmar and Chinese artists and is one of the pioneers of the young avant-garde Art movement in Myanmar. She was the President of Yangon 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 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 3 grandchildren. 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 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 specialization 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 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 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.

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 Myanmar culture, theatre and dances.

4 children - 10 grandchildren.

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.

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).

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.

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 Myanmar, 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.

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.