TO CONTACT THE MONTE SAN MARTINO TRUST: EMAIL [email protected]. Correspondence should be addressed to John Simkins (Administrator), Letitia Blake (Secretary) or Christine English
The Monte San Martino Trust is a registered charity operated by MSM Trust Ltd, number 1113897, a company limited by guarantee. It was founded in 1989 by J. Keith Killby, a former prisoner of war in Italy. Based in London, it has a representative in Monte San Martino in the Marche, Antonio Millozzi, MBE, who co-ordinates activities in Italy. The Trust’s students’ organiser in the UK, responsible for the welfare of the Italians awarded one-month bursaries to study at languages schools in Oxford and London, is David Kettle.
The Trust’s officials are:
Sir Nicholas Young (Chairman and Trustee)
Former Chief Executive of British Red Cross and knighted for services to cancer care. Nick is the son of Fontanellato escaper Major Leslie Young, who got through Allied Lines near Anzio. He was awarded the Italian honour of Cavaliere Ufficiale in 2016.
Christopher Woodhead (Treasurer)
Grandson of Lt. Col. H. G. de Burgh, Senior British Officer at PG49 Fontanellato. Christopher worked in publishing including periods at Pan Macmillan, Harper Collins and a university press in Buckingham. He runs a literary festival. Christopher became a trustee in 2019 and treasurer in 2021.
Hon. Letitia Blake
Daughter of historian Lord Blake who escaped from Sulmona and reached Allied Lines after nine weeks. Her many duties include selecting the students. Letitia visits Italy frequently and speaks Italian.
John Simkins (Administrator)
John, a former trustee, is an Italian speaker and frequent visitor to Italy. A retired journalist, he is the son of Anthony Simkins, a PoW at Sulmona, Montalbo and Fontanellato, and in Germany. John handles communications and the website, and student selection. He is the translator of L’Orizzonte del Campo by Marco Minardi, published by the Trust in 2020 as Bugle Call to Freedom, the story of the mass escape from Fontanellato camp in 1943.
The niece of a Fontanellato PoW, Anne is a lawyer and divides her time between homes in Oxford and the Marche. She researches PoW history and was guest speaker at the annual luncheon in 2014.
Omar is the Italian-born nephew of Major General Dany Bucchioni, OBE, King’s Medal, who was an Italian partisan and the organiser of a successful escape route for ex-PoWs from northern Tuscany through the Gothic Line to Allied territory. Omar began his association with the Trust as a MSMT student in 2003. He qualified as a barrister in London in 2006 and has worked as a lawyer in London and now internationally. He was the Trail Manager for a number of MSMT Freedom Trails in northern Tuscany from 2005 to 2012, including the 20th anniversary Freedom Trail in 2009, which was the last trail that the founder J. Keith Killby attended in person. Omar became a trustee in 2013, a British citizen in 2016 and is also a governor of Kensington Wade, a dual language school.
Justin de Meo
With an Italian father, he was brought up in Italy and the UK. He is a frequent visitor to Italy from his home in Wiltshire. He retired after a career in business, specialising in the acquisition and development of residential buildings. Justin succeeded Nicholas Gent as Treasurer and held the role for seven years before handing over to Christopher Woodhead in 2021.
Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the Balkan war, she moved with her family to a village in Le Marche. She was awarded a MSMT bursary in 2007. In 2013 she moved to London for work and in 2016 became involved with the Trust as a meeter of students. She became a trustee in 2019. Along with John Simkins, Nermina is on the board of the joint project with Istituto Nazionale Ferruccio Parri to construct a website entitled “Italy and the Allies, 1947-1953”.
Organiser of annual MSMT/Fontanellato luncheons and daughter of Major Ian English, a PoW at Fontanellato who was the editor of Home by Christmas? published in 1997 and reissued in 2017 by the English family. Christine is in charge of the Trust’s physical and digital archive.
Ian Laing, CBE
Chairman of several science-based companies and of Stanhope, a property development company. He is a governor of London Business School and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Son of Anthony Laing, a PoW who escaped from Fontanellato.
A fascination with the walks down Italy undertaken by PoWs led Julia to the work of the Trust. In 2017, she undertook her own 250-mile trek from Tuscany to Rome. Julia’s career has been in publishing and she is senor editor at Thames & Hudson, specialising in history and art history books. She is the compiler of the Trust’s comprehensive bibliography on books relating to PoWs in Italy. She became a trustee in 2019.
Christopher Prentice, CMG
Christopher retired from the Diplomatic service in 2016 after five years in Rome as Ambassador. Formerly he was Ambassador in Amman and Baghdad. He joined the Trust’s board in 2016 and was guest speaker at the annual lunch that year.