The John Aves Educational Project seeks to empower disadvantaged young people to fulfill their potential through educational achievement in order for them to better serve their community.

John was visiting the Holy Land in 2003/2004 as part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). He enjoyed the dialogue with both the Israeli and Palestinian communities and was preparing to spend the last two weeks of his three month term at the Mar Saba Monastery outside Bethlehem. Tragically John died suddenly in Bethlehem. John was a man of faith who was filled with hope in mankind. He wrote the following just a day before his untimely death at the age of 52.

John Aves

"Do I come back from the Holy Land with much hope? The answer is yes. Why? Because I see the story of Christ here, not only in the Holy places and the Bible but also in countless stories of courage and dignity I have witnessed. I see tremendous God-given hope in the centre IBDAA where I help. This centre is run by some of the many Palestinians who are placing their hopes in educating their children in dance groups, in self-confidence and language skills and computer technology to carry on the long-term struggle with dignity and grace."

The first step was to fund and support one young student, Bahaa Milhem from IBDAA, successfully gaining a University Entry level qualification at City College Norwich. Bahaa is now studying at a London University and we are proud of his achievements.


Introduction to the work of the JAEP from JAEP on Vimeo.

Foreword from the Bishop of Norwich


John Aves was one of those clergy whom bishops treasure.  Loved by the people of his parish, he had an infectious joy about him which attracted people to the Christian faith.  He also had immense curiosity.  He wanted to know how other people lived.  That is what led him to spend the last three months of his life in the Holy Land.  Not that we expected it to be the last three months of his life at all.  He went on a special programme but found he wasn’t getting close enough to the Palestinian people.  He ended up living in a refugee camp and in an astonishing short period of time became their honoured guest and confidante. 

We were preparing for John’s return.  I knew he would want to create fresh links between the diocese of Norwich and the people with whom he had been working.  It was a huge shock to know that he had died suddenly.  His memory was treasured not just in Norwich and Norfolk but in the Holy Land too.

The John Aves Educational Project is more than just a memorial to a remarkable priest.  It builds on what happened in the last three months of John’s life and is a testimony to his passion for education. 

Already the first young student from the Dheisheh camp is at the City University in London following a course in Norwich.  Now there are plans for assisting more young people to be the leaders of tomorrow in their communities by supporting their education in Palestine/Israel itself.

The project began in a small way but it is growing and providing not just links between the Holy Land and people in Norfolk but building bridges in Palestine/Israel too.  We think John would approve.  We pray that God will bless what we are doing.

Bishop of Norwich
The Right Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich
Patron, John Aves Educational Project

The future ...

bar JAEP Branch

With the support of Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, we are currently exploring opportunities to develop the work of this Project. We are now supporting more bright but disadvantaged young people to fulfill their potential by offering appropriate educational support in order that they may continue their education in their own communities.

  • -  The Project will work with universities in the Holy Land to identify deserving students from Dheisheh Refugee Camp capable of making a positive impact.
  • -  We continue to explore links with other communities in the Holy Land to ensure we identify the most appropriate students.
  • -  The future depends on funding. Please help us make a difference to these young lives by completing a Bankers Standing Order Form. We are especially looking for regular gift aid donations that enable us to plan ahead. Usually we cover the university fees for a student for the three years of study.
  • The Committee


    Bishop of Norwich
    The Right Reverend Graham James


    Nicholas Taylor
    Director Woodland Burial Parks Limited
    Chairman of Funeral Planning Services Limited

    Nick spent 25 years as a successful Funeral Director and views the development of his funeral business as one of his greatest achievements. This further fuelled his passion for helping people. Nick trained as a bereavement counsellor and has worked as a Samaritan. He is a high-profile figure and ambassador for the funeral industry and provides frequent lectures and guest speaker appearances for events and conferences, as well as making radio and TV appearances. He was a founder of a Funeral Planning Company and Colney Woodland Burial Parks. Nick and John Aves had known each other for many years both professionally and as friends. We even went jogging together!

    Holy Land Universities and Dheisheh Link
    Anne Aves
    Project Manager at City College Norwich
    Anne and John were married in 1976. Their two sons were born in 1983 (Ben) and 1985 (Edmund). Anne has worked at City College since 1984. Her roles have included teaching and Head of Department. Anne currently manages regional projects to re-engage vulnerable young people. As part of this role Anne has built up partnerships with local organisations including YMCA. Anne, Ben and Edmund have returned to Dheisheh Camp a number of times the most recent was in 2011.


    Palestinian Link
    Samia Tabari
    Social development consultant with a focus on women, children and refugees.
    Samia is a social development consultant based in Norwich. Samia is a Palestinian born in Lebanon and has been in the UK since 2003. She remains involved in development projects in the region, with a focus on women, children and refugees. She retains useful connections to the Middle East and speaks Arabic. Samia offers valuable advice and insights when we decide on the appropriateness of funding applicants.

    Liz Magem
    Principal Lecturer with QA: the UK's leading provider of learning services
    Liz Magem is the secretary for our committee. Liz has been involved in education for nearly 24 years. Her roles have included Head of Department at City College Norwich and a training consultant for Aviva. Liz is currently employed as a principal lecturer by QA, the UK's leading learning company. Liz and Anne Aves have been friends for over 30 years, and through that friendship Liz came to know John.


    Norfolk YMCA Representative
    Marion Dawe
    A teacher, who understands the liberating influence of education
    Marion represents the Norfolk YMCA on our Committee. Marion knew John Aves as the rector at St Mary's Attleborough. ‘As with all who knew John we were shocked and saddened by his death but delighted to know that through the hard work of the John Aves Educational Project, disadvantaged young people were being helped in Palestine. It seems to be a very fitting legacy.' She was delighted to be asked as part of the work of the YMCA to join the John Aves group to represent the YMCA, She is by profession a teacher and knows of the liberating influence of education.

    Ben Aves
    Strategist for Goodstuff Communications in London

    Edmund Aves
    Freelance photographer in London