December News from St James and My forthcoming visit!

Dear Friends

I hope you will enjoy viewing my news about St James through our new website. I chose the name Brick by Brick for St James for the site as it has become our motto. Brick by brick is the way we have built and are still building this wonderful school in Uganda. Every donation however big or small is appreciated and used appropriately. I love to be able to promise a child who comes and gives me 10p of their pocket money that every penny of it will go out to St James and be used to help make the lives of their friends in Nakakabala just that bit happier. There is no middleman, no ‘expenses’ are removed as working (and playing!) at St James is my holiday each year, and I LOVE IT!

On the website you find the ‘Story of St James’ from its founding in 2008 and how I came to be involved in such a wonderful venture, taking you up to 2012 where I talk about the need for a safe water supply and permanent classrooms. Since I wrote that our story has got better and better and, over the next few months I will endeavour to add news, photo and video footage from the intervening years. Using a website is new to me and I’m a slow learner but I will enjoy recalling all the amazing progress that has been going on slowly but surely, as I work on it. So please explore what is already on and……watch this space! I have already started to insert photos to some of the newsletters and you can find a few newsletters (some with video links) if you click on the years on the right hand side in ‘Gerry’s Updates’, one of the most exciting being October 2014!

6 - James and his happy family. We had had a wonderful party weekend!

James with some of the children who live at St James.

On Boxing Day I fly to Uganda for five weeks and as usual I can’t wait to get back to my second home and to see the progress you have helped us make since my last visit a year ago and of course to see James and all the many other people who have become good friends over the years.

Just as we have had our unseasonal weather in the UK, Ugandas weather has been mixed up too! They’ve had very heavy rains in the dry season and periods of drought have lasted well into what should be the wet season, making cultivating their land to provide their families with food very difficult for the people. As you will have read in the last newsletter a river of water damaged one of the nursery classrooms so to prevent this happening again James had culverts installed to divert the flood water. Then recently high winds tore down a mango tree which unfortuatnley landed on the school latrine block. James tells me in his recent letter: ‘The children’s toilet collapsed after a very strong storm in the heavy rain. It was good that no one was inside so no causalities. So we shall need a toilet before the new school year starts in February. The corrugated iron sheets were not spoilt even the timber and the Iron bars are still ok. Some of the bricks are still good and can be used again even the doors are o.k. So we shall need labour to dig the pit and construction. We have some of the sand and also concrete stones still left too so we mainly need cement and labour charges.

30 - I cut the ribbon (toilet paper) to open the new latrines

Cutting the ribbon (toilet paper!) at the ceremony to open the new latrine block in 2011

32 - The children lining up at their new latrines

A big tree fell on the latrine block during a recent storm

‘Our new pigsty is good. One of the pigs might produce when you are here at St James!! It will be exciting as you might be interested in helping it push the piglets one by one ha! ha! I have planted two areas for the ginger crop but it takes a long time to come out so I am still waiting! Ginger is very profitable but it is harvested after two years so we must be patient! I have planted onions behind my house, some yam and Irish potatoes . I have also changed the banana plantation to the front of the pigsty. Plenty of cassava has grown, potatoes and sugar cane too so I hope we shall not starve in future.

‘Good news, the ceiling in Hambridge Hall (the block of four classrooms) is now complete and we hired the hall out for the first last week to politicians as the rains were too heavy. They paid us 50,000 (£10!) which will help to feed the children. The Hon. Minister of Parliament commended our work and the beauty at St James! We also had two schools use the hall for the Primary Leavers Exams which brought in 150,00 each and of course we did not have to pay for our own students this year now that St James is UNEB registered!’ James used to have to travel with his candidates to another UNEB (Uganda National Exam Board) registered school which cost each student a ‘sitting fee’ plus transport costs, so Hambridge Hall is already generating income! We are raising funds to put solar power in the hall too so that it can be hired out for functions in the evening too. We are not far off reaching are target for the solar and I hope by the time I fly out to Uganda on Boxing Day we will have sufficient for me to oversee the installation while I am in Uganda. If you haven’t already done so please consider contributing to the solar power for the hall, or to our on-going project to build Joy Clinic, progress of which you can read in my October newsletter .

53 James working in the garden outside Hambridge Hall the new classroom block

James working in the garden outside Hambridge Hall making it attractive for hiring out for weddings and other functions

‘I have been very busy especially with Primary Leavers Exams and end of year exams. I think the results will be good again this year. Thank you so much for raising funds for St. James. I realise it is hard to raise funds and it is even harder here in Uganda with too much inflation, corruption etc. All the same, we have managed to do a few things this year and that is really great. Remember we are brick by brick-BUT thanking God because we have tremendous development within a short time. Government schools have not even acquired some of the things we have! So long live Gerry, Long live Great Norman, Long live Nicola, Sara and Owen & Long live all our friends in the U.K.’

I also have a Facebook Page Brick by Brick for St James. Just click on the link


  • the schools who have continued to develop their friendship and support for their counterparts at St James.

  • my doggy friends who come to stay at my home in exchange for a donation

  • the Poynton Luncheon Club, Indo-Africa Charity, Parklife The Warehouse Project & Stockport Lamplighter Rotary Club

  • those who gave a donation in exchange for apples, tomatoes, and other produce from our garden this year

  • all who are using my St James Christmas cards to put smiles on faces

  • all who have chosen to give ‘alternative gifts’ to their friends and relatives be it for Christmas or birthdays or just because! Recently I have received donations for a Milking Cow called Melanie; a desks from a couple who have chosen to give each other a named desk for Christmas, 6 chickens for a 50th Birthday gift and a desk to be named after a little girl called Molly. All these gifts will make a big difference to the children at St James, they are not just for Christmas!

  • so many of you who have given money gifts large or small – every penny counts!

  • and all of you who continue to have an interest in St James and support the school as much as you are able. You are ALL truly wonderful!


  • If you are struggling to think of a gift for that someone special for Christmas or for a birthday please think about purchasing an Alternative Gift. Please see our Fund Raising Page for details

  • Logan and Georgie

    Give a gift of a desk to St James and have your name painted on it!

Sierra Exif JPEG

The Frienship Schools are never forgotten as James has named areas of St James after them. St Paul’s Place (after St Paul’s Catholic Primary in Poynton) is a beautiful shady area at the side of Hambridge Hall where the teachers sit to plan lessons and where I like to sit too!










Gerry the goat. Named as it was born the day I arrived in Uganda! You can sponsor a chicken, pig, goat or cow and give it a name!

Mr James with one of the young goats that will earn money for the school. You can sponsor a goat too or give one to a friend as a gift.


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