Charity begins at home

Charity begins at home
Helen Leale-Green

What inspired your change of career?

I worked for Price Waterhouse Coopers for about 15 years in management consultancy, and I had three children during that time. As they were growing up, my priorities changed – the things that had been so important to me before didn’t seem as significant. I did charity work with several organisations before I found the one that really ticked all the boxes for me, an international development charity. I started by tutoring students on Saturdays, then became a trustee, and eventually went full-time.

How did you come up with the idea for Our Moon Education?

One of the Zambian students I met through my work thought I could make more impact if I went to his country; he invited me to go and stay with his family. He introduced me to some schools and another charity, and together we put on some student and teacher workshops, and it came from that. We set up Our Moon just over four years ago to provide high achieving but financially disadvantaged students in their late teens and early twenties with the skills and knowledge to access quality higher education. Most go on to study at amazing universities around the world on full scholarships.

How does Our Moon’s Young Leaders Programme work?

It’s a one-year, intensive residential programme. In Zambia, students have a two year gap between finishing school and the age when they can apply to university, so our programme fits into this gap.

And it is not only about assisting those we work directly with; students are required to spend an hour each day tutoring young children who are out of school. I like to think the main thing we do is open students’ minds to possibilities and opportunities, and to help them develop a social conscience for their country.

You’re holding a fundraising ball on Thursday February 27 at Tunbridge Wells’ Hotel du Vin. Can you tell us about that?

We’ve teamed up with Tunbridge Wells Network B2B (Helen is a member) to organise Our Moon’s Charity Ball, which will raise funds to complete our learning forum in Zambia. The learning forum is being built in the Chibombo District, about 100km from Lusaka. It will house all our classrooms, a library, computer room and hall. The beautiful Hotel du Vin is providing a champagne reception and delicious dinner, to be followed by music from the excellent Mint DJs.

We also have great auction and raffle prizes donated by local people and businesses, including a Kenyan safari, a DJing lesson, a private tour of the House of Commons with Maidstone MP Helen Grant, and giant hampers. Anybody who wants to donate a prize is more than welcome.

How else can people in Tunbridge Wells help Our Moon?

We need more volunteers and are particularly looking for people with writing and social media skills. Also, if you would like to conduct a challenge event or fundraising activity, please do let in touch.

How you can get involved:

Smith Coffin Private Finance, is offering free mortgage reviews for anyone who contacts them in response to this article. Call 0800 644 6620 and mention ‘Our Moon’) and they will donate £100 for every completed mortgage case to the charity

You can go to the ball:

Tickets for Our Moon’s Charity Ball on Thursday February 27 at Hotel du Vin are on sale now for £75 per ticket or £750 for a table of ten, including a three course meal and a champagne reception. To buy tickets or to find out more about Our Moon visit

Ashley: Our Moon success story

One of our first students, Ashley Nyangani, is now studying sociology on a full scholarship at the University of British Columbia in Canada. She works with indigenous women in Canada to develop her skills as an advocate. She has also set up an NGO (non-governmental organisation) in Zambia working with rural women as well as co-founding a Zambian charity to improve online access to education resources for local students. Both of Ashley’s parents died from AIDS, and she had been promised to be married at the age of eight. A teacher rescued her from this impending marriage and found a distant relative, also dying from AIDS, who needed nursing. The relative agreed to let her go to school during the day if she nursed him by night – she got brilliant grades and was referred to us. 

Why I love Tunbridge Wells: Helen Leale-Green

What is your favourite place for coffee?

It’s a toss-up between Juliet’s and Basil, which is probably a bit clichéd! I adore both for their
cakes and salads.

And to eat out?

The Hotel du Vin – I love the surroundings and the decoration. It’s beautiful yet cosy.

Where do you go locally to get away from it all?

The Common. I feel like I can lose myself in my thoughts and don’t feel like I’m in a town at all.

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