The  Bitou Community Foundation Trust

The Bitou Community Foundation Trust was established as a registered UK Charity (1172847) in April 2017 to engage with South Africans in the United Kingdom committed to responding to the need for healthcare, community development and environmental conservation thus uplifting impoverished communities and protecting the unique natural biodiversity in the Bitou region of the Western Cape. The two beneficiaries of the Trust are the PlettAid Foundation/Hospice Plett and the Robberg Coastal Corridor Protected Environment. A Charity Gala Dinner and Auction was held at the Vintner’s Hall in London on the 3rd October 2018 for the benefit of these two organisations.  Thanks to the generosity of both the Trustees and their guests, a significant amount was raised. Unfortunately due to Covid 19 restrictions, fund raising has been limited over the last two years.


Lady Conyngham

Chairman Annabelle Conyngham now lives in Plettenberg Bay, where for the past decade she has devoted most of her time to civic and environmental issues. She was a Founder Member of the Save Plett Alliance, and part of the Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum. She is also a councillor of the St Peter’s Anglican Church of Formosa, Plettenberg Bay. In 2016 she established the Bitou Trust to assist with funding the PlettAid Foundation/ Hospice Plett, of which she is Vice-Chairman, and the Robberg Coastal Corridor Protected Environment for which she serves on the Committee.

Most of her working life was with Christie’s Fine Art Auctioneers in London, which she joined in 1972, specialising in international aspects of the auctioneering business and becoming one of the first women auctioneers. Besides assisting in setting up salerooms in Amsterdam and Monaco, she worked for the firm in Geneva, Rome and Hong Kong and, in 1985, was instrumental in opening three Christie’s representative offices in South Africa. Highlights of her time at Christie’s include her involvement in the auctions of Chinese porcelain salvaged from the South China Sea, and of animalier bronzes by the renowned South African sculptor, Dylan Lewis After her marriage she lived on the Isle of Man where she was the Regional Representative for Christie’s from 1991 to 2007. In 2010 she was invested as a Dame of the Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, having served as Chairman of Council of the Order for many years while in the Isle of Man. She also serves on the Ladies’ Guild of the St John Ophthalmic Hospital of Jerusalem.

Chris von Christierson

Chris von Christierson, BCom (Rhodes), MA (Cantab) OPM (Harvard), spent 40 years in the exploration and mining industry.  He has served on the boards of a number of companies both in South Africa and internationally and was a Director of Gold Fields Limited for twelve years.  He is currently involved in the advanced development of a non- toxic process to extract metals from ores without smelting, with significant savings in energy and benefit to the environment.  He is Chairman of the Watch Hill Foundation, a UK registered charity involved in education, the protection of the environment and the arts ,primarily associated with Africa.

In 2005 he founded the Mandela Magdalene Scholarships to Cambridge University and has participated in early childhood development projects in South Africa.  He was founding Chairman of the Robberg Coastal Eco Corridor in the Western Cape coast of South Africa .  He has also assembled an extensive important collection of Afro-Cuban art.  He is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Jane Taylor

Jane is a writer and photographer who has lived much of her life in the Middle East and South Africa. After a degree in history and philosophy at St Andrews University, she worked as a teacher and a publisher, before becoming a freelance television researcher and producer. In the early 1980s she learned enough Zulu to record the life story of an old Zulu conservationist and work with a team of talented Zulus who transcribed and translated into English the 57 hours of tapes. Following this she made a series of films for television with Sir Laurens van der Post on the Bushmen (San) of the Kalahari, which was shown on the BBC. They also collaborated on the book of the films, Testament to the Bushmen.

During her 27 years in the Middle East (based in Jordan) Jane helped with Jordan’s evacuee crisis in 1990-91, and in April 1991 worked in Iraq for 5 weeks, photographing for UNICEF and Save the Children. Since then she has written and photographed several books to show the rich history, culture and beauty of Jordan and the Arab world. She now lives in London and maintains vital contacts with these t\¥0 special areas of the world.

Philippa Vaughan

Philippa is an art historian with extensive experience of conservation and heritage issues, particularly in the Indian subcontinent.

Following postgraduate studies and some academic teaching she joined Christie’s King Street to establish the department of Indian and Islamic Manuscripts and Miniatures. After more than a decade in the international art market she became a Founder Trustee, and later Director of Projects, of The Calcutta Tercentenary Trust focused on conservation, restoration and education in heritage issues in Calcutta and West Bengal. She acted also as Consultant archaeologist and art historian to the British Council and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture on World Heritage Monuments in South Asia and curated on behalf of the British Council an exhibition for the Golden Jubilee of Pakistan which was opened in Islamabad by HM The Queen. She was Director of the Royal Asiatic Society 1995-98 and a Vice-President 1998-2001.

More recently she has travelled in Africa, particularly in South Africa where, thanks to friends and family connections, her experience of issues in developing economics can be put to good use.