Dr Martin Parsons is married to Lesley a former nurse, tutor and health visitorand has two young children. Martin grew up in Suffolk and Norfolk, before moving to Nottingham. After studying Geography at Hull University, he worked as a Geography teacher in Essex, before working overseas in Pakistan, then Afghanistan. Martin and his wife Lesley currently live in a village in South Leicestershire, and he has hoping to be selected as a parliamentary candidate.
Overseas aid worker - From 1995-2005 Martin worked without a formal salary to set up a development project in a remote mountainous region of Afghanistan, including several years working in Afghanistan itself. Despite having to negotiate with the Taliban and other radical Islamic groups, Martin made initial contact with this remote people living high in the mountains more than a week's walk from the nearest road and was almost certainly the first westerner ever to visit some of these villages. He established a community development dialogue, started to analyse their unwritten language in order to produce an alphabet and set up a literacy project. He then recruited a team of specialist expatriate staff to whom he has now handed over the work.
While working overseas Martin was also a member of the NGO committee that functioned as the national education committee for Afghanistan during the Taliban era, served for a while on the board of another NGO and was involved in general management for the NGOs he worked for. Martin was also involved in assisting the persecuted church in Afghanistan - including during the Taliban era when a number of Afghan Christians were executed for their faith.
Prior to working in Afghanistan Martin spent a year as principal of a further education institute in Pakistan. He was also a member of the managing council of a Pakistani education centre that oversaw the management of a number of educational institutes, including a technical college, high school with boarding house and over 40 village primary schools.
Expert on Islam - Martin has a PhD in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, which was the first academic study that helped the persecuted church in Islamic countries to express their beliefs in non western ways. This has recently been published as a major academic book in the USA. He has also written a number of other articles and papers on variety of subjects. These include a detailed advisory paper that exposed fundamental flaws in the Labour government's strategy for combating Islamic extremism and terrorism - a paper that has been read by a number of shadow ministers including Michael Howard. He learnt Urdu and Persian while working overseas. He has also been an expert witness for the Asylum Appeal Tribunal concerning genuine threat to life/abuse of human rights.
Teacher in UK secondary modern and comprehensive schools - Martin taught Geography in secondary modern and comprehensive schools in Southend on Sea and Loughton, Essex before going to Pakistan to become principal of an English Language Institute. Between returning from aid work in Afghanistan and starting his own business Martin spent a year teaching in schools in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire - including some of the most challenging inner city schools in the country.