Meet the Board

Revd. Martin Burrell
Chair of Trustees

When in 2009 Martin became a vicar of Christchurch Bushmead in Luton, he became aware of the growing number of Roma families from Eastern Europe in town. He embarked on learning the Romani language, sensing that it would be the route to reach this marginalised community. As he got to know more Roma families, Luton Roma Church began to take shape and Martin was appointed Chaplain to the Gypsies, Travellers and Roma for the Diocese of St Alban’s. With the encouragement of the Diocese St Alban’s (2009-2018) Luton Roma Trust was born in 2015 with the specific aim of giving the Roma people a future and a hope such that they had never dreamt of.

Today Martin continues to chair the Churches Network for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma – CNGTR. He is also a UK representative for Roma Networks – an international Christian group of Roma and non-Roma pastors who are working with the Roma across Europe and beyond. 

Martin retired from his work in Luton in 2018, after which he was appointed Bishop’s advisor to GTR communities of the Diocese in Canterbury. 

In 2009, Martin published The Pure in Heart: An Epistle from the Romanies, reflecting on his earlier work with the English Romanies of Kent. In 2020, Martin published his second book – One New Humanity: Scriptural Reflections on the Luton Roma.

Bishop Richard Atkinson
Bishop of Bedford

Bishop Richard has been a Trustee and Vice Chair of the Luton Roma Trust since the very beginning. Passionate about social justice and the engagement of the church with the needs of the world, it has been both a privilege and a learning curve to support the Trust’s work with the Roma community.

Bishop Richard has been Bishop of Bedford since 2012 with responsibility for the Church of England across Bedfordshire, within the Diocese of St Albans. He is much experienced in charitable and business governance. He is currently a Governor of Bedfordshire University, Chair Designate of One YMCA, Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education and Vice-Chair of the Diocese of St Albans Multi-Academy Trust, and a Trustee of the Just Finance Foundation. He is Chair of the Eastern Region Ministry Course.

In 2002 he was awarded an OBE for ‘Services to Employment in Rotherham’

John Barr

John Barr is from a family of Romany travelers. When his grandparents came to faith they became part of the settled community and as a child he attended the local Pentecostal church. He came to faith in adult life and was baptised. Now he is a member of St Mary’s Church,  North Mymms, where his wife Ruth is the vicar.

After an invitation to a CNGTR (Churches Network for Gypsy Traveler Roma) faith day hosted by Luton Roma Trust (LRT), John was invited to take a more active role in the Trust.

Stephanie Sayers

Stephanie has worked with the Roma community for several years in Romania together with her husband, who is our Education Champion.

Liz Hughes
Senior Chaplain at Luton

Liz started her ministry as a Deaconess in 1983 and made Deacon in 1987. Then, she was privileged to be one of the first women priests in the Diocese in 1994. Liz has worked largely in Chaplaincy roles: Hemel Hempstead Hospital 1993-1999, St Francis Hospice 1999-2013 and Senior Chaplain at London Luton Airport since 2013.

During this time, Liz also worked as NSM curate in the Parishes of Dunstable and Boxmoor and as honorary Chaplain to police and local youth groups.

Since being at Luton Airport, Liz has worked closely with voluntary and statutory organisations supporting people from Romania and other parts of Eastern Europe as they first arrive in this country.

Valdemar Kalinin

Born in Vitebsk, Belarus, Valdemar Kalinin qualified as a teacher in Belarus. He has a Masters degree in History/Philosophy and Germanic literature. His poems have appeared in local newspapers in Belarus, and his collection of poems in three languages (Romanes, Belarusian and English) was published in 2004.

Valdemar came to England in 1995 at the invitation of the Department of Education to work with Romani  from Eastern Europe and Irish Travelers children and families. He translated the whole Bible into the Baltic Romani language, published in Minsk in 2014.

Valdemar founded in Belarus the Baltic Romani mission and three Romani-language Bible schools for Romani children and adults.

Contact us:

Tel: +44 (0) 158 2510709