David Winterbottom was appointed to the Board in February 2017. He is one of Australia’s most experienced restructuring and turnaround executives and is the Managing Partner of KordaMentha’s Sydney office. David has more than 30 years’ experience working with organisations to solve financial, operational, and strategic problems. David is a Chartered Accountant and an Official Liquidator of the Supreme Court. His philanthropic interests also include being a Director of ReachOut Australia, the leading mental health self-help website for young Australians.
We caught up with David and asked him what the work of Dr Catherine Hamlin and her team means to him…
Why did you join the Board of the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation?
When I was asked to join the Board, it didn’t take me any time at all to respond with a definitive “YES”. It was very clear to me that Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is a charity that has made, and continues to make, such an incredible difference to so many women’s lives. I felt with my financial and business skills I could add value to the Board.
Tell us about the first time you met Dr Catherine Hamlin.
I first met Catherine in May last year at the main Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. I was attending Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s International Partners meeting. Catherine invited Carolyn Hardy (CHFF’s CEO) and I to afternoon tea. It was a fascinating chat and very humbling at the same time. Catherine was as passionate as ever when talking about her wish to eradicate fistula in Ethiopia and beyond. But she also was very keen to hear about what was happening back in Australia and to be updated on the great work of the team at Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation and our wonderful supporters – many of whom she knows by name. We then accompanied Catherine on her daily walk around the grounds of the hospital. It is obvious she still keeps a close eye on the day to day and has a keen interest in the patients.
If there was one message you had to give someone about the amazing work you’ve seen in Ethiopia, what would that be?
I was fortunate enough to meet many patients at the main hospital in Addis, some of the regional clinics, and the rehabilitation centre Desta Mender. The difference that a successful operation brings is so immense it is hard to describe until you see it, and hear about it, in person. I met a lady from a very remote Ethiopian village at Bahir Dar clinic, who had suffered from a fistula for 35 years! She was having her operation in a couple of days time, but she was so lovely, optimistic, and appreciative. Incredibly, she was not at all bitter about her difficult circumstances and life – she was just looking forward with hope. I couldn’t stay to see the result of the operation but given the high success rate Hamlin surgeons have, I’m sure that by now she will be back in her village leading a productive and happy life again. She left an indelible mark on me.