The Board of the Chisholme Institute

The Directors are responsible for overseeing the running of the Chisholme Institute according to its aims. Read more here. They meet regularly at Chisholme House to discuss all aspects of the Institute including its financing, staffing, maintenance, building projects, household matters, garden, estate and publicity. You can email the directors at

Notes from recent meetings

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Lesley Abadi


Lesley graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1966 after majoring in printed textile design. She worked as a freelance designer and taught in Winchester School of Art, Croydon College of Art and Bournemouth College of Art. Lesley later taught sixth form art A level students and in adult education centres. She has been a director of the Institute since its beginning and is married with one son.


Hiroko Nagato-Apthorp


Hiroko grew up in Japan and has lived, studied and worked in UK since the mid 80s. She has a masters degree in Visual Islamic and Traditional Art, specialising in Japanese screen painting. She first visited Chisolme in the late 90s and since completed two six-month retreat courses. She subsequently joined the staff at the Institute, supervising courses, and working as housekeeper. She and her husband have two children and they currently live in Hawick.

Jonathan Davey

Safety & Environment

Jonathan studied Human Resource Management at Cardiff University and Safety and Environmental Management at Nottingham Trent University. He has worked as a teacher of English in the Sudan, as a social worker, teacher, owner/manager of a wholesale bakery, College business development manager and latterly as a consultant in safety management systems.

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Julia Dry

Chair; Finance

Julia has been a student, volunteer and guest at Chisholme since 1976. On completing the second 6-month retreat course studied Fine Art with philosophy, sociology, history and archaeology. After researching Persian 'paradise gardens', a period of painting, teaching and working in archaeological illustration, she followed a love of gardening to study horticulture and worked as a professional gardener. She has a practical knowledge of accounts, and has worked in the charitable sector.

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Paul Finegan


Paul has been associated with the Chisholme Institute for over thirty years. He moved to the Borders in 1996. He now lives in Hawick with his wife and is semi-retired. Paul is particularly involved with Administration, including the Institute's dealings with the British Accreditation Council, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and other areas. In his spare time he writes and performs narrative verse.

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John Hill

Garden & Estate

John studied geology and social anthropology at Cambridge University and researched in ethnology at Oxford University. This led on naturally to courses at Chisholme. He is currently a garden designer and runs a landscaping business. John has been a director of the Chisholme Institute for more ten years and takes particular responsibility for the estate and organic kitchen garden.

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Rachel Mackey


Originally from Co. Donegal, Ireland, Rachel has lived in UK for 27 years. She qualified as a Registered Nurse in 2002, worked in Emergency admissions, Oncology, Minor Illness, Forensics and spent some time in the Middle East. She now works in Yorkshire as a Nurse Practitioner in Urgent Unplanned Care.
Rachel first attended Chisholme in 2010 and has undertaken a number of courses there, which, she says, have changed her life.
She joined the Board of Directors in June 2017.

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Tim Roberts

Environmental issues and sustainability

Tim has been a director since 2004 and has been involved with the Chisholme Institute for over 30 years. He is a professional musician and works mostly as a teacher, privately and in schools, although he is also a founder member of the nearly-famous Vastearth Orchestra. Tim lives with his partner in Worcestershire, where they have a house and three allotments. When Tim isn't at Chisholme, meeting visitors from all over the world , he likes to travel around it as much as possible.
He has long been interested in environmental issues, and this is the area he is most concerned with as a director.


Maryanna Ryan


Maryanna studied Music at the University of Edinburgh, and Nursing at Oxford Brookes. She has travelled widely, and worked in hospitals in the UK, the Falkland Islands and in Uganda. She has had close ties with the Chisholme Institute for many years, as a six-month course student, a volunteer and member of staff. She learned to cook at Chisholme, and this instilled in her a life-long love for good food. Recently, she has embarked on the new adventure of motherhood.


Despite our best efforts at snow clearing, one polytunnel collapsed under the weight of the recent snow. Walt Holland and friends devised a clever snow sweeper and managed to save the others from falling. See the video >>>


Sat 24th March 2018 00:00 to
Sat 7th April 2018 00:00

This will be the time to get the garden ready for spring planting, with study and meditation available


Sun 8th April 2018 19:00 to
Sat 21st April 2018 14:00

A contemplative period of painting and decorating


Sat 19th May 2018 19:00 to
Sat 26th May 2018 14:00

Come and join in with work in the garden and the woods or help in the kitchen and house


Fri 25th May 2018 19:00 to
Sun 27th May 2018 14:00

Why is recognising the unity of all existence important?


Sat 9th June 2018

Begin your Summer with a week in the garden, with study and meditation available