Mystery surrounds shock removal of ShelterBox founder
10:35am Wednesday 22nd August 2012 in News
Mystery surrounds the sudden departure of ShelterBox founder Tom Henderson this week.
In a shock statement released yesterday lunchtime (Tuesday) the Ward of ShelterBox Trust confirmed that Mr Henderson had been removed as chief executive officer of the Helston-based disaster relief charity.
No reason has been given for the loss of his position, however a statement from the charity said the decision the decision to relieve Tom Henderson of his duties had been unanimous.
The decision is believed to have been made in June but has been an ongoing matter since then, with the news not made public until yesterday.
It is understood that Mr Henderson – who less than three weeks ago suffered personal tragedy when his wife Jane died from a suspected heart attack aged 59 – had been offered a presidency role by the board of trustees in June, which he turned down.
This week the trustees said there was an “ongoing appeal process,” adding: “As we do not wish to prejudice any outcome and maintain fairness to all involved we will not make any further comment.”
Chief operating officer John Leach is currently acting as CEO and a process has begun to find a permanent replacement. The trustees added: “We can, however, assure everyone that our operations and day to day management continue unhindered, with a very successful open day held over the weekend and ongoing operations to deliver aid underway in the Philippines.
“We will continue to help thousands of families worldwide affected by disaster, providing them with shelter, warmth and dignity.”
Despite attempts to contact Mr Henderson, no statement had been received when the Packet went to press.
Mr Henderson founded the Helston-based charity in 1999, after developing it in his garden shed, and launched it the following year. Since then it has provided lifesaving equipment and shelter to hundreds of thousands of victims of natural disasters around the world. It first received worldwide attention during the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, with its support of the Haiti earthquake victims in 2010 cementing its international profile.
The charity now has warehouses with pre-positioned aid across the globe, as well as affiliates around the world including in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and throughout Europe.
In 2010 Mr Henderson was presented with an OBE from the Queen, after being recognised in the New Year Honours list for services to humanitarian aid. That same year he was awarded an honorary doctorate of business by the University of Plymouth, for the charity’s achievements over the previous decade. Last year Mr Henderson received his second academic accolade, when he was awarded an honorary fellowship from University College Falmouth.
Prior to founding ShelterBox Mr Henderson was a Royal Navy diver, before operating a private diving company. He launched the charity with the backing of the Helston-Lizard Rotary Club, which made it their millennium project. In March this year ShelterBox and Rotary International became project partners, allowing the two organisations to collaborate more closely.