top of page

Our Founder

Clifford Dann photo

Clifford Dann MBE

Clifford was a man who rarely ran out of ideas, always able to think outside the box. Throughout his life his combination of persistence and determination made him an unstoppable force. To imagine that this meant he had a narrow range of interests would be to miss the essence of the man. His considerable professional achievements were wide-ranging, greatly respected and earned him many honours. He founded ARBRIX, an organisation which united arbitrators around the world and still thrives today. He was President of RICS from 1983-1984. Some of his many activities, achievements and honours can be found in Appendix 4 on the link. 

Two other important themes ran throughout his life: charitable causes to which he brought his wide expertise and experience, and his love of music, which was an active and enduring passion. He was choirmaster and organist with the Livery Company of Chartered Surveyors from 1979-2005, and organist and choirmaster at various Sussex churches until 2017. He often combined any two areas of interest in one enterprise, sometimes all three – putting on and taking part in a concert to raise charitable funds for a building project, for example! 

His life in public service began when he was only twenty, when he first became involved with Chailey Heritage. Chailey specialises in supporting children and young people with complex physical disabilities and health needs, mainly through its school. He later became a governor of the school and unstintingly served Chailey in many other capacities until 2002. 

Throughout his life he continued to make a significant difference whether in his professional work or in voluntary and charitable enterprises. His last great cause was his own creation, the CHT, which he founded in 2004 when he was seventy- seven. 

He became interested in slum development in Africa and, as the UK housing market thrived and money was plentiful, he decided to put his interest into practice on the ground. He and his intrepid wife Tricia visited slums in Nairobi and South Africa for research and inspiration. He passionately believed that resettlement should not create a new slum but provide decent, sustainable housing where people can flourish and give their families better lives. 

He noted an upgraded slum in South Africa where each family had a separate small house set in a plot where they could grow food. The design of the housing project in itself fostered self-reliance and resilience. This concept remained with him when planning to rehouse the community group, MWAMKO, in Nairobi. 

He and Tricia visited Nairobi often over the years, to keep in touch the MWAMKO families and discuss their needs. These meetings influenced his thinking while he developed plans for the houses and site layout. Simplicity, sustainability and an element of self-sufficiency were crucial. He drafted tenancy agreements and attended to many details for the families’ future in their new homes. His presence encouraged them and gave them hope.


He set up the Commonwealth Housing Group (CHG) in Nairobi to work as liaison with both MWAMKO and with CHT. In this new construction phase CHG has become the executive arm of the project on the ground, still in close liaison with CHT in the UK. 

Clifford, a Sussex farmer’s son, left school at fourteen to be an apprentice at a cattle market. Through studying in his own time he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor aged twenty one and, still in his twenties, founded his own practice. He knew well that people can move beyond limits that seem set from childhood, through education, determination, hard work - and help. He never lost his passionate determination and, to the end, continued to help others. 

Clifford Dann worked energetically to achieve his vision for the MWAMKO families right up to his death in 2017, aged 90. CHT and CHG are determined to fulfil his vision and complete his legacy. 

Although Clifford did not live to see any construction work begin, he arranged an informal ground-breaking ceremony in July 2012 to celebrate the newly-purchased land with some members of MWAMKO and CHG - a happy and hopeful occasion for all. It was three further years before the land registration was fully completed by the Kenya government, with planning permission granted in 2016. Clifford died the following year.

clifford and me preparing for symbolic g

CHT Chairman Clifford Dann and CHG Chair Valerie Kent in light-hearted mood as they practise for the ground-breaking ceremony! 

site meeting with clifford.png

Clifford discusses the project at the new site with MWAMKO and CHG members. The Project Manager, Abdi Mohammed Isaac, is on his right

48 for Clifford Dann section iMG_2012071

A celebration, with Clifford, Chair of CHT, a group of MWAMKO members, the then CHG Treasurer and now Chairman, Harrison Kwach

, (far right) with Valerie Kent (CHG Chair) and Abdi Mohammed, Project Manager (third from right)

bottom of page