Meet the Team

Currently the team is made up of 45 current and former members of Exeter University Officer Training Corps which draws it's membership from both Exeter and Plymouth Universities. All of the 45 team memebers are volunteers and are passionate about the cause.


Rupert Laing – DecAid Co-Founder and Organiser

Rupert has always enjoyed working in event management. In 2005 he worked with James Robb Catering in Edinburgh. He then spent two summers with Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Country Fair. His experience as assistant organiser in his second year taught him a huge amount about organising an outdoor event, attended by over 45,000 people.

In October 2006, Rupert attended Exeter University where he studied Politics before graduating with a 2:1. On leaving, he received the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leadership Award. While at university, Rupert became heavily involved with Exeter University Officer Training Corps (EUOTC). In his final year he was promoted to the position of Senior Under Officer. At the beginning of his final year, he organised and led the ‘Five Marathon Challenge’. This involved a team of five running five marathons in five days, up the highest mountains of each of the five countries in the UK and Ireland. The team completed the Challenge despite appalling weather conditions and raised £12,800 for charity. In March 2009, Rupert then organised a challenge involving 28 fellow members of EUOTC. This led to their training for and breaking the Guinness World Record for the number of people tied together to complete a marathon. This event also raised a further £6000 for charity. In April, Rupert became involved in more academic challenges as a member of the EUOTC Flux business team. This competition involves creating a business plan and pitching the idea to a panel of business experts. The team won the university heats and went on to the national finals in Plymouth. On leaving EUOTC, Rupert was honoured as top graduate and received the COMEC Leadership Award.

Rupert is passionate about events. As a strong supporter of the British Armed Forces he is keen to try to help those affected by the current conflict in Afghanistan. 


Tom O’Connell – DecAid Co-Founder and Munro Mission Team Leader

Tom has been a member of Exeter University Officer Training Corps since he started at Exeter University and, in his second year, was made Junior Under-Officer and appointed Platoon Sergeant. In the same year he was elected Russian Subject Chair which required him to represent all students studying Russian in meetings held with the University.

Amongst other things Tom enjoys running, cycling and hill walking. He is a qualified Mountain Leader and loves spending time in the hills. Tom is also a keen triathlete and has run numerous marathons. The most notable of which were run in autumn 2008 when he and four others completed 5 marathons in 5 days in the 5 countries of the UK and Ireland. Not only this but the marathon routes included the highest mountain in each of these countries. The team raised £13,000 for charity. In March 2009 Tom was part of the team that broke the World Record for the largest team to complete a marathon linked together.

He is currently studying Russian and Spanish at Exeter University and will be graduating in 2011. When not at University he lives at home with his family in Cornwall.

Victoria Chavasse - Head of the Marketing Team

Vicky Chavasse - Head of DecAid Marketing Team

Victoria is in her third and final year at Exeter University and is studying Business Economics. During her time at university she has been a member of the Exeter University Officer Training Corps. Through her time with OTC she has run a marathon tied to 27 other people, breaking the Guinness World Record; competed in the British Army Cross Country Ski Biathlon Championships as well as a number of other activities.

“I am really passionate about the reasons behind the DecAid Appeal and look forward to reaching our target and succeeding in our goals. Knowing that I have played even a very small part in supporting those who have been affected by the last 10 years of conflict in Afghanistan is something that I am looking forward to.”

James Fish - Head of Media Team

James Fish

James Fish was born and raised in Watford. Having being educated at Rickmansworth School, he flew the nest to attend the University of Exeter, where he read Engineering and Management. During his time at University, James was a prominent member of the Exeter University Officer Training Corps and worked his way up to become a Platoon Sergeant in his final year. Whilst fulfilling this role he helped train and lead his platoon to ‘Best Platoon 2009’, which in turn help to lead  him being named ‘Best Senior Wing Cadet 2009’. His other experiences at University included taking part in a world-record breaking marathon, parachute jumping and travelling.

James got involved with DecAid for a few reasons. He feels that the public doesn’t fully understand just what every soldier goes through whilst on active service. Something he wishes to change with his participation in the appeal.  He also had the privilege of knowing a couple of servicemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving in Afghanistan and wants to honour their memories.

James has grown up being involved in the media (when he was young, his father used to have to go into the BBC on Christmas Day to broadcast the Queen’s Speech!) and has been an intern production co-ordinator at Turner Broadcasting System Europe, working on channels such as Cartoon Network and Boomerang. He is determined to get the message of DecAid out to the Great British Public and help them show our troops support, not just sympathy.

Hannah Brewer - Head of Media Team

Hannah Brewer DecAidHannah has just finished her second year at The University of Exeter studying English. Hannah was encouraged to join the DecAid Appeal after experiencing military training herself as a member of the Exeter University Officer Training Corps; the challenge of spending just a weekend on Dartmoor made Hannah fully appreciate and feel indebted to the hard work and daily sacrifices made by the British Forces throughout her lifetime.

Hannah seeks a career in the media industry; specifically in multimedia journalism. Hannah feels that her participation in the DecAid Appeal has allowed her to develop the confidence and the skills which will be essential upon her graduation and future job-application, as well as making some great friends!

DecAid has been instrumental to providing the experience needed for Hannah to secure placements with several prestigious national media and marketing companies, but most of all Hannah feels extremely proud of the ambitiousness of DecAid and the dedication of her fellow team members to publically honouring 10 years in Afghanistan.  

Josh Pickford - Head of Finance

Josh Pickford, Head of Finance, DecAidJosh is in his final year at Exeter University, studying Economics and Finance. While at University Josh has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Exeter University Officer Training Corps, experiencing a range of varied activities, and being appointed Platoon Sergeant for his final year. Josh is a keen sportsman and OTC has allowed him to compete in many sports, including Rugby, Hockey, Swimming and more.


Want to know about the individual events' teams? Select the 'Contributors' tab on each event's page and read about them there. Click here to go to see all of DecAid's events.


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