Sacked Shelterbox boss Tom Henderson to carry on work in wife's memory
SHELTERBOX founder and former chief executive Tom Henderson has robustly rebutted allegations made by the charity which sacked him in August.
Mr Henderson, who formed the Helston-based humanitarian aid charity in 2000, also spoke movingly about the death of his wife Jane shortly after news of his dismissal, and of plans to set up a foundation in her name.
He was responding to comments from ShelterBox, which last week said its trustees had lost confidence in him.
ShelterBox cited concerns over what it described as a £650,000 order from a company it believed had links with Mr Henderson's son John.
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Tom Henderson said: "I knew nothing about it at the time.
"I now know he did consultancy and design work for them at a nominal fee."
He added that it had never even been an order, saying it was instead "part of a strategic plan". He questioned whether the ShelterBox board would have been aware of it.
"There was never an order, I never placed one."
Of ShelterBox's further claim that he had put on more pressure than usual on that "order", he added: "They would say that, wouldn't they?"
He also denied he had not fully engaged with the charity over its investigations into the matter.
He said he intended to set up the Jane Henderson Foundation as part of a new charity aimed at providing semi-permanent accommodation. As yet un-named, it is likely to be launched next month and John Henderson said his father already had the support of a number of ShelterBox affiliate board members around the world. "They are fully supportive of Tom Henderson and his vision."
Speaking about Jane, for whom he still lights a candle every day, Tom Henderson said: "We had been under tremendous physical, professional and mental strain.
"She has been alongside me for 12 years (since forming ShelterBox). She has been the unassuming person in the background.
"We were together for 43 years. She was a wonderful girl who thought the best of every person and everything.
"I promised we would carry on our work in her memory."
He was "humbled" by the support he was receiving from the people of Helston and much farther afield.
Of his dismissal – to be the subject of an employment tribunal possibly in February – he said: "I don't feel bitter, I feel disappointed because people I thought I knew have taken this course of action.
"I am also anxious because at ShelterBox I have friends and colleagues I have worked with for many years. Some of them have become part of the collateral damage."
ShelterBox said in a statement that its trustees were compelled to act: "This matter has been an unwelcome distraction at a time when ShelterBox has never been busier bringing much-needed aid to people in desperate need through man-made or natural disaster.
"The board of trustees worked with Mr Henderson for months to resolve issues around his capability and conduct and, unable to reach resolution, unanimously agreed that he could no longer remain as CEO.
"The trustees are bound by UK law to protect the charity and lost trust and confidence in Mr Henderson when he remained unwilling or unable to explain the nature of the £650,000 order."