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  • "Good on him, without taking anything away from him there are lots of people that have successful careers despite growing up in council estates! With determination, good role models and support great things can be achieved. As for Whitehawk being 'one of the country's most deprived council estates', I would say that this is simply not true, unless they mean county."
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Whitehawk lad makes it big

Alex Swallow, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition

Alex Swallow, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition

First published in News

 A  lad from Whitehawk” who graduated from Cambridge University has once again defied the stereotypes.

The Argus reported nearly ten years ago how 20-year-old Alex Swallow had made it from one of the country’s most deprived housing estates to the prestigious halls and gardens of Cambridge.

Nine years later, and with a masters degree in hand, he has been announced as the new chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, which represents 6,000 organisations across the country.

His new job was once a distant dream for the ‘Lad from Whitehawk’, as he was described by The Argus in 2003.

Mr Swallow, now 29 and living in East London, said: “It’s a terrific charity and I am excited to soon be a chief executive.

“Since leaving Cambridge I’ve been involved in quite a range of things. I helped to run a voluntary teaching programme in Romania and then worked as an assistant language teacher in Japan for two years.

“After that I was proud to be able to study for a Masters in International Relations at the University of Sussex. Then I moved to London and worked for an MP in their constituency office and a second MP in Parliament.”

Youth charity

Mr Swallow, who went to St Mark’s Primary School in Whitehawk and later Cardinal Newman, set up an organisation called Young Charity Trustees in 2011.

The group works to get more young people on to charity boards at a time when the average age of trustees in the country is 57.

He continued: “It’s especially important at the moment when charities need all the support they can get and young people are struggling to find work and pick up useful skills.”

Despite its reputation, Mr Swallow is still fond of his Whitehawk background.

He added: “I really like Whitehawk and always have. There seems a strong sense of community and I know many people who do so much good for the area. The [Argus] article in 2003 made me even more aware of how lucky I have been.”

Debra Allcock Tyler, chair of the Small Charities Coalition, said: “He [Alex] impressed us with his enthusiasm, and passion for and commitment to supporting the work of small charities and trustees – and his ideas and plans for the future are exciting.”

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