The Team


David Gridley

For a number of years David was a Trustee and the Deputy Chairman of the Canterbury Oast Trust (COT), a Kent based Charity. COT provides opportunities for people with learning difficulties.

David was involved in the setting up of the LEO Trust in 1992 – “Lifetime Equality and Opportunity” for adults with learning difficulties and was a Trustee and the Chairman of this Charity for many years until he retired from both positions.

This means that he has an insight into the running of Charities, how they can be organised, fund raising and he also gained valuable experience in dealing with the Charity Commission.

David also has experience in running a business as he is a Founder Member and Senior Partner of St. James’s Place Wealth Management.


David Cole

David has not been actively involved in the Charity sector before apart from raising many tens of thousands of pounds for various charities over the years.

He heads up a highly successful business as a Principal Partner of St. James’s Place Wealth Management and this brings a great wealth of business acumen, drive and determination which is absolutely required not only to run a successful business but also to help run a successful Charity.


Simon Payne

Simon was born in Kenya and has many connections with Africa. He runs a unique family business called Blue Forest, known as the world’s leading tree house company.

Blue Forest were involved with Tongole from the very beginning when they were approached to design and build Tongole Wilderness Lodge. Following completion of the lodge Simon joined the board of trustees for The Tongole Foundation.

Simon has a Masters Degree in Development Studies and has spent time working with a number of different charitable organisations in both the UK, Latin America and East Africa. Simon provides strategic direction and helps in programming and overseeing project operations.


Louise Cole

Louise joined the Tongole Foundation in July 2012 as Projects Coordinator. She has a varied experience having worked at the London Dungeon as an actor to a Duty Manager and High Ropes Instructor at Go Ape!

Louise joined the Burfields House Wealth Management Practice in 2018 as part of the admin department. Although she had initially intended to stay temporarily, she quickly realised that she enjoyed her role and was beginning to learn new things that interested her. This led her to pursue the position of Practice Manager, to the delight of her father, David Cole (CEO and Principal Partner, and Trustee of the Tongole Foundation). 

She is a fantastic event organiser and has raised lots of money which has been put to incredible use in Malawi.


Steve McKnight

No stranger to the Charity World, Steve is a Founder and Former Trustee of the Denis Law Legacy Trust and has undertaken many charity challenges in his career. Including numerous trips to Malawi in 2013, 2015 and 2017 providing funding for the bore hole and as part of the team on the ground during the building of the Chilimani Primary School.
Steve has also worked as part of the Hope and Homes for Children team in Rwanda, Ukraine and Belarus and on his 15-year work anniversary, got an Achievement Award for his continuous contribution to the St. James’s Place Charity Foundation.
A Principal of McKnight Associates Wealth Management, Principal Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, Steve has almost 30 years experience in the wealth management industry and has built a team where supporting the community is a strong ethos in the business.
Bringing empathy, humour and lived-experience with him, as well as business knowledge and the ability to get involved in whatever capacity a project needs, Steve is an asset to the communities he volunteers in.


Bentry Kalanga

Bentry is the Managing Director of Tongole Lodge and also the local Director of The Tongole Foundation.

He a vast experience in the NGO sector, both in the UK and across Africa and has spent his life working alongside local communities to bring real and lasting improvements to people’s livelihoods.

Community Liaison Officer

Maluza Banda

Maluza is the Tongole Foundation Community Liaison Officer. Before joining us, Maluza worked with World Vision International for many years.

Maluza is from Nkhotakota and understands the community where we work very well .