Princess Esther Sellassie Antohin was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She immigrated to the United States in 1977, where she became a naturalized citizen.
She returned to Ethiopia with her late husband Anatoly Antohin in 2009. She became the founder of Heritage Watch Association in 2018 and is currently leading the organisation as its Executive Director. Her goal is to be part of work that strengthens and promotes Ethiopian Cultural Heritage in Ethiopia, in the continent of Africa as well as globally.
Princess Esther is a cultural anthropologist by training and has authored two books on Ethiopian Cultural history. She recently became a director of the board of CIC Fairfield House, the former residence of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and Her Imperial Majesty Empress Menen Asfaw, Princess Esther’s Great Grandparents.
As a great-granddaughter of the late Emperor Haile-Selassie, she strives to honor the legacy of the Emperor. In keeping with this legacy Princess Esther is committed to serve Fairfield House and the community of Bath, to reach its great potential as a mutli-cultural, globally focused center.
William Heath is a social entrepreneur who since arriving in Bath helped set up The Bell Inn (Bath) co-op, and also the Big Bath City Bid to make Bath City FC a supporter-controlled club. He advised the Friends of Fairfield community association, and became one of the founding directors of Fairfield House Bath CIC. He now co-chairs the board with Princess Esther Antohin.
William produces and co-presents with Tosin Onile-Ere the In Our City programme for Imperial Voice Radio.
Dr Shawn Naphtali Sobers is Associate Professor of Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice at University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol. He was born in the city of Bath, and has been volunteering with Fairfield House in various capacities for over 20 years. He is director of the UWE Critical Race and Culture Research Network, and has carried out a wide range of research projects spanning diverse topics, ranging from; legacies of the transatlantic slavery in Bath and Bristol, African presence in Georgian and Victorian Britain, Rastafari language and culture, and the history and legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie's time living in the city of Bath, which he turned into a documentary for ITV in 1999 - 'Footsteps of the Emperor' presented by Benjamin Zephaniah.
His films and photographs have been exhibited and screened internationally, and broadcast on BBC1, ITV and Channel 4.
Celia Mead is a management and business development consultant and project manager who combines business focus with creativity and extensive experience in heritage, museums, charities and tourism.
She has been Executive Director of London Historic Buildings Trust, Bath Festivals and Bath Institute for Rheumatic Diseases and held senior positions in The National Trust. She writes business plans, marketing strategies and options appraisals for museums, historic buildings, cultural organisations and charities.
Celia has raised over £300k in funds in the last 18 months from philanthropists, grant funders and sponsorships, for Fairfield House, BEMSCA, LHBT, London Parks & Gardens Trust and BIRD. She serves on the boards of London Parks & Gardens Trust, Bath Boules Trust and Mayden Foundation, previously on Bath Preservation Trust, VisitWiltshire and Wells Cathedral Council and is a member of the Museums Association.
Celia loves Fairfield House for its unique history and significance and for the exceptional people involved. She is inspired to help serve in securing its future so that it will be safe for future generations of its communities to enjoy.
Ras Benji is a Rastafari historian and researcher. Born in the UK, raised in the south west but with roots in the Caribbean, Africa, China and Europe. A healing journey of self discovery under the divine guidance of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I led to finding Fairfield house over 10 years ago and being involved in volunteering however possible, helping with events, raising funds / awareness, and working with other volunteers to take care of the garden.
Ras Benji obtained a legal education with a particular interest in international minority rights but today is an online business owner, landscape gardener, researcher and aspiring author, with a main focus on his passion of promoting, preserving, and defending the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I. After a life affirming pilgrimage to Ethiopia in 2015, he felt called to defend a modern assault on the memory of His Imperial Majesty in 2016 with the resurgence of the theatre production of Ryszard Kapusinski’s ‘ The Emperor’ in London’s West End. Protesting for many of the evenings on his own, Ras Benji attended each performance, peacefully protesting outside the theatre for 3 weeks with placards and information explaining why the original book and subsequent play can be considered to be ‘literary (or theatrical) colonialism’.
An avid sportsman in the past, Ras Benji has represented Barbados on 24 occasions in competitions across the Caribbean including the Rugby World Cup qualifying tournaments at senior and junior level.
Light and peace, a Rastafari historical investigative series presented by Ras Benji and Ras Hugo Makepeace, is available to listen to on Imperialvoice.com broadcasting from Fairfield House.
Fisseha Gizaw Combley is a senior electrical consultant engineer working in multidisciplinary consulting for Mott MacDonald, with extensive experience in leading and managing projects both in the UK and internationally.
Fisseha was born in Awassa in Southern Ethiopia and now lives in Bristol. Fisseha came to the UK in 2000 and took British citizenship in 2004. He has been organising and supporting the Ethiopian community in the South West, especially Bristol and Bath. For around 15 years, Fairfield House has been an important meeting place where the community can draw together to celebrate cultural festivals.
Fisseha is keen to give something back to the house. He recently led and organised the Race to Adwa fundraising event in collaboration with other Ethiopian communities in the UK and internationally to celebrate 125th victory of Adwa and to support Fairfield house.
This year he has also raised funds in collaboration with other Ethiopian communities and medical doctors in the UK and USA to purchase oxygen supply equipment to support Ethiopia’s fight against Covid-19.
Blaine Dowdle is an innovator with a social conscience, putting new ideas into play at their earliest stages in the burgeoning business that is today’s medical cannabis industry.
Coming of age in Toronto’s vibrant Dancehall music scene in the early 1990’s Blaine’s experiences instilled in him a lifelong passion for Rastafari and reforming drug policy. For Blaine these experiences led to a mystical visit to Fairfield House which for him brought the story of Haile Selassie to life and helped put him on his path to success. In 2015, after 12 years as Founder & CEO of MedCannAccess (MCA), Blaine sold MCA to Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC), Canada’s first publicly traded medical cannabis company. Blaine joined Canopy as its Head of International Development and Special Projects and immersed himself in the world of international drug policy and developed seminal partnerships, such as Beckley Canopy Therapeutics.
Blaine, as a Founder and Director of the non-profit Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) acted as part of the GR team that in 2012 successfully lobbied the Canadian government to improve Canada’s medical cannabis regulations and set the stage for future full cannabis legalization. Blaine also consulted with numerous other governments, trained law enforcement on drug policy and attended the UNGASS 2016 session as a delegate to discuss the international medical cannabis situation.
Through projects in Jamaica and Antigua, Blaine is honoured to have the opportunity to give forward to the communities that inspire him by working to support Occupy Pinnacle, Rastafari Rootzfest, and Rebel Salute’s Herb Curb along with many other community projects and organizations. Now, Blaine is working with an amazing team continuing implementation of the vision of Rastafari awareness and drug policy reform with Itopia Life in Jamaica’s new medical ganja industry.
Pauline Swaby-Wallace has been a community worker for over 40 years. She has worked in established organisations formed from the 1960s set up by ethnic minority people new to Bath and wanting to be inclusive in the community also groups formed in the late 80s to voice BAME issues on race equality/inequality, education, health and social care inequality in statutory services.
She has held various positions in many of the groups and organisations and brings all of this knowledge to her current role as BEMSCA manager and advisor to the Fairfield House CIC board. She is proud to be involved in continuing the legacy of HIM Emperor Selassie to provide a service to older people in Bath.
Sonia Swaby is a long-standing BEMSCA staff member, cooking and housekeeping for the house and Elders. Born in Bath, she was drawn to Fairfield House to help with the Elders when BESMCA moved from its former premises in Riverside. Sonia has been at the heart of life in Fairfield House for over 25 years.
Des Allen is responsible for general maintenance and repairs at Fairfield House. He first came to help with the garden for a couple of months, and has now been helping for four years. Born in Jamaica, Des came to Bath in 2002 from London.