I chose the name Pilots Publishing because my home is Pilots Cottage. The origin of the name is unknown but from old maps it long predates flight and so is likely linked to either a river or sea pilot. I am the sole person to contact concerning Pilots Publishing.
Originally from Bromley in Kent, as a boy I delivered newspapers and groceries after school on a bicycle, and on Saturdays sold potatoes from a lorry and worked in a greengrocers and a bakery. I attended Bromley Grammar School for Boys.
In my late teens I tried my hand at voluntary work as secretary of a housing association, leasing derelict property from Bromley Borough Council on five-year terms to provide low cost accommodation, and led work parties to carry out basic renovations. One of my most enjoyable early jobs was as a supervisor of young offenders in the pilot South London community service scheme.
For many years I bought, renovated and sold residential property in the UK, with a few interesting projects thrown in, including helping to construct and sail a replica 19th Century trading ketch, co-producing a video magazine, building two timber houses in Jamaica and selling pottery and craftwork with my father. I was in a band and have performed and recorded music at various times.
In 1987 I joined Project Orbis International to manage PR and logistics for the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital, dedicated to fighting blindness and fostering peaceful international cooperation. I travelled widely, liaising with ministries of health, host medical societies and airports to plan medical programmes, seeking support from hotels, fuel companies and airlines, arranging press conferences and fundraising, including six years in Hong Kong, where I set up an Orbis office.
With my long-time friend and mentor Oliver Foot, who led Orbis, I left and together we promoted the island of Jamaica, working in particular to help the ailing Blue Mountain coffee industry and establishing a flagship coffee shop in Central London in partnership with the Jamaican government through its Agricultural Credit Bank. We staged hundreds of musical and cultural events, exhibitions and shows and organised many UK media tours to Jamaica.
After three years studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Sussex, I was invited to return to Orbis, headquartered in the United States, where I led the PR and fundraising teams and was later appointed Executive Director and CEO from 2007 to 2009. Orbis International is one of the top 100 US-based charities in terms of budget and it was a privilege to work with some first-rate people and to lead one of the world’s finest humanitarian endeavours.
I have lived for long periods in Jamaica, Hong Kong and the United States and am now back home in Kent with a smallholding near Canterbury. Since returning to the UK I have been a charity director and trustee with several charities, including with the Canterbury RSPCA, which cares for and re-homes neglected animals across a large part of Kent.
Pilots Publishing was originally established in 2014 to provide an imprint for the publication of a book by my late uncle, Reg Curtis, a founding member of the Parachute Regiment in World War Two. I helped him to edit this over two years and at his request all profits from The Memory Endures go to the Parachute Regiment Charity, ‘Support Our Paras’.