Our Trustees

The five trustees and one committee member are connected through a combination of school, university, location and family.

Niall ‘Max’ Macdonald (Chairman)

Max was born in Kampala, Uganda, in 1957. When his family returned to Scotland after independence in 1962 he went to school at Dollar Academy and onto the University of St Andrews where he met both his wife, trustee Belinda, and trustee Liddy.

A long career as a commercial pilot – including 20 years with British Airways (BA) – took Max all over the world, including back to Uganda in 2012.  The family moved back Dollar in 2002, so that his sons, Shaun and Calum, could also attend Dollar Academy.

In 2012, Max joined the BA fleet which flew regularly to Entebbe, Uganda. For the next two and a half years his roster included a trip to Uganda every few weeks. The mandatory 2-3 day stopover before the return flight allowed him to explore the country of his birth and make the return trip to the west of the country up to 6 times a year during the charity’s development phase. Max retired from British Airways in 2017.

Max is our strategic thinker and chief liaison officer in a country where man-to-man talk still rules much of the decision making. His ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, is an invaluable asset to the trust.

Belinda Macdonald (Trustee)

Over a career that has included scientific research, independent financial advice,  further education teaching, and garden design, Belinda has proved that she can turn her hand to just about anything. Along the way she picked up 2 degrees and 3 further education certificates. As the owner-operator of Shades of Green Garden Design (2007-2021), Belinda juggled garden masterplans, planting recommendations and consultancy advice with the general and financial administration for the trust. Her retirement from business has allowed her to focus on the charity and she is now working on developing partnerships with local businesses alongside her other trust roles.

H. E ‘Liddy’ Semmens Laird (Trustee)

After a BSc (Hons) degree at the University of St Andrews, Liddy qualified as a Dental Surgeon from the University of Dundee in 1983 and has been running her own dental practice in Dundee since 2010. When not caring for her patients and dealing with the administration of a busy practice, she sings in two local choirs and runs 1st Newport Brownies. Liddy is the trust’s health and hygiene expert, and with the help of the Brownies and her network of patients and friends, is also the lead fundraiser. Liddy retired from dentistry in August 2022 but still volunteers with the charity Dentaid. Her daughter Catriona designed the Uphill logo.

Max, Belinda and Liddy run the The Uphill Trust on a day-to-day basis and make self-funded visits to Uphill Junior School at least once a year to check on developments at the school and network with local community members.

uphill chairman and school director

Uphill chairman Max with school director Elius in 2013

uphill trustees in uganda

 Belinda and Liddy with committee member Alison in 2015

Shaun Macdonald (Trustee)

Shaun graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2018 with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science and in 2023 with a PhD in the field of Human Computer Interactions. He works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Glasgow University and is responsible for trust’s video collection. He visited Uganda in 2015 and witnessed the first land purchase for the school.

Calum Macdonald (Trustee)

Calum graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and works as a Management Accountant for Social Investment Scotland. His financial expertise is a valuable addition to the trustee team. He visited the school in 2015.

Alison Irvine Smith (Committee Member)

Alison, also a former pupil of Dollar Academy, has a law degree from the University of Strathclyde, a masters degree in Information Technology and Communications Law (2008) and is a fully qualified solicitor. She provides both legal advice and fundraising support. Now semi-retired, Alison enjoys curling, hill-walking, travel and wrangling her large extended family. Alison came with us on our first trustee visit in 2015.

uphill trustee Shaun Macdonald with uphill junior school founders in 2015

Shaun with school co-founders Elius and Patrick in 2015

uphill trustee Calum in 2015

 Calum with children from the community in 2015

” The Uphill Trust is a very ethical charity which has grown to offer so much to children, and their families, in rural Uganda. Education, care and love are truly transformational”   G. Boardman, regular donor

 The Uphill Artist

Scottish Illustrator and Comic Artist Catriona Laird designed the logo for trust and school in 2015, while still a student at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. You can see more of Catriona’s work on her website.

In 2016 she published ‘Patience Goes Uphill’, an illustrated story inspired by the enormous struggle faced by children in Uganda to get an education. Proceeds from the book are used to fund  projects at the school – you can buy a copy on the  Gifts that Give page.

In 2017 Catriona designed  a range of fundraising  e-cards.

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