From an early age, Alan felt an innate sympathy for underprivileged
children around the world. Geography was his favourite subject at school and
soon led to a desire to travel. At a young age, whilst training as
a structural engineer with The Greater London Council, he drove with co-trustee Tina Bolton to Athens and saw, firsthand, the devastation and misery caused by
an earthquake in Skopje, Yugoslavia.
Visiting Israel after the 6 day War in 1968, he came across an abandoned Palestinian
refugee camp. The desolation he witnessed left a lasting impression and he endeavoured to do what he could, when he could, for the underprivileged.
Upon completion of his training as a structural engineer, he formed a construction
company with co-trustee Keith Constable, building homes and hotels throughout
The next step was founding Astor Hostels in 1974 which, for 40 years, has provided safe accommodation to millions of students and travellers in London.
Many friendships blossomed out of his work with Astor Hostels and during the last four decades he has travelled to over 80 countries – from Africa to South America
and the poorest parts of South East Asia – witnessing the poverty and lack of
educational opportunity endured by so many children.
A desire to help, even in just a small way, led to the foundation of the Rivers
Charitable Trust (now known as The Rivers Foundation ) in 1999. The aim was to give at least some children and young people the opportunity for a better life.