Gem is home!

Dear Friends Gem is home!
Just over a week ago Gem arrived back in the UK still a bit bruised from a couple of mishaps but with her usual big smile! She had ridden all the way to Berlin and Back on her own! She rode over 1,400 miles to raise awareness and much needed funds to provide basic health care for the children and the community in and around St James Junior School in Nakakabla, Uganda.
Gem who turned 27 during her bike ride, certainly did as she intended and ‘spread the smiles across the miles’ but unfortunately she was unable to raise the money she hoped to do, to continue the building work of Joy Clinic, a first point medical centre and midwifery unit at St James. Many people promised to donate but then failed to do so. Gem is so disappointed in herself because of this. I have assured her that she should be incredibly proud of what she has done and is still doing for people she has not even met! To cheer her up a little I reminded her of all she has done in recent years, the most amazing being to provide a borehole for all those children who used to have to walk a long way for a drink! I know as I went with them! The pure, clean water available to all those lovely children IS the result of Gem and her infectious smile and personality. It would have taken me years and years to do what she has already done!
Gem will always have Uganda in her heart just as her grandmother Maria Maw did and she will go on working hard to help the people who have become familiar to her through my newsletters and photos. I am writing to ask you to please, please, please think about donating to Gem’s wonderful achievement to show her how much her hard work and dedication she is appreciated. The world needs young people like Gem!
Please let me know if you do a bank transfer so that I can check and confirm that it arrives safely and chase it up if necessary
To donate money within the UK:
1 – In cash

2 – By cheque made out to BRICK BY BRICK FOR ST JAMES

3 – By Bank Transfer within the UK – must use all three sets of numbers for successful transfer!

Account no: 10920320

Sort Code: 20-55-34

Reference: 0505003578

4 – By Bank Transfer from abroad:
IBAN: GB16BARC20553410920320
Account Number: 10920320
Sort Code: 20-55-34
Reference Number: 0505003578
Thank you in anticipation from me, Gem and all those people your kindness will be helping!

Love to you all!

Gem is almost home!

Dear Friends, I’m writing to bring you up-to-date with my young friend Geminy Maw who is still pedalling hard on her return journey from Berlin. Gem has had a real adventure, some good times some not so good but knowing Gem she is still smiling! Her emblem Spreading Smiles Across the Miles suits her so well!
Just to remind you – Gem only returned from New Zealand in February this year when she announced: ‘My next mission and how I am Spreading Smiles Across The Miles….. a solo cycling trip to Berlin and Back to build Joy Clinic, first point medical centre and midwifery unit at St James!’ Through her infectious enthusiasm and love for Uganda Gem had already gained the money for a borehole at St James which was installed in September 2014 providing safe drinking water for many people!
I’m sure some of you have been checking her blog at but if not I will give you a very brief taster!
Norman and I said goodbye to Gem at Stockport Station on May 6th with a bike heavily laden with amongst other things a tent, clothes, repair kit and tools including a spare tyre, and of course lots of stickers, sponsor forms and a flag she had designed herself attached to the back of her bike! She had spent many weeks training and gathering together everything she needed for her challenge.

Gem caught a ferry over to the Netherlands where she found it very bike friendly with easy to follow cycle paths and flat with many fellow cyclists to keep her company so she made lots of friends. She headed north to Oldenburg in Germany to avoid the main roads. With her flag flying from her bike people often stopped her, asking about the trip. A German teacher Gem had met on the ferry invited her to go to stay in her home. When she reached the town Gem couldn’t find the address but was rescued by the local opera singer who showed her right to the door. She said everyone was so friendly. This lady took her to spend a day at the local high school where she shared with the children all about her travels around the world, her present challenge & of course Uganda. They asked her many questions and then pretending to be newspaper reporters wrote articles about her!

Each night Gem had to find somewhere to sleep and mostly these were beautiful places in the countryside where she would pitch her tent. They call this freedom camping. She describes in her blog how she saw lots of different creatures but also how she was attacked by mosquitoes so had to get into her tent fast once she had pitched it!
One night she woke up to hear loud running in the undergrowth and felt very scared.
Then there was a loud roar followed by many other roars. Gem stayed quiet hoping whatever it was would go away. Then she plucked up courage to peep out of her tent to find an enormous stag deer looking for its mate! Often as she rode along animals such as foxes, stoats and rabbits shared her cycle path. She never felt lonely!
She arrived in Bremen after a very long ride and was looking forward to staying in a hostel away from the mosquitoes for a change but then disaster struck, she got her front wheel stuck in a tram track, wobbled and the heavily loaded bike went down hard on her left arm. Fortunately an x ray showed there were no broken bones but Gem was unable to ride her bike for three weeks. She made the most of these unfortunate circumstances having met some more lovely people when she had had her accident. She was interviewed for a newspaper, got involved in making a film, worked in a refugee camp with refugees from Syria and other war torn countries.
Eventually Gem arrived in Berlin where she hit a heatwave. She took time off cycling to visit all the famous sites including the Holocaust Memorial which she found very moving.
A new friend painted a giant picture of her Spreading Smiles Across the Miles emblem on part of the Berlin Wall! She got involved in many other activities and seems to have found every music group, get-together, festival big and small. One was called the Welcome Festival where she really did feel welcome and enjoyed the music and dance and the unusual lifestyles of many of the people she met. Gem was in her element!
Gem is now on her way home and is back in the netherlands and heading to Delft where she will spend a few days with relatives before her last leg home. She hopes to be back in Macclesfield by the 1st of August and I will be there to meet her along with the local newspapers I hope!
I suggested to Vernon Primary School that they might like to do their own Bicathon in support of Gem and on Monday 13th July they raised just over £50. It was the late Mrs Dee Cooper at Vernon School that first supported Gem’s grandmother Maria Maw’s work in Uganda in 2002 when I had my first visit there. Then in 2008 the present head teacher Mrs Carvell, took on the challenge to build St James! So the school’s support for Gem, Maria’s granddaughter, is very appropriate! The day of the bikeathon was also the 65th birthday of James Mutyaba, head teacher of St James Junior School!
Thanks to all of you who have already sponsored Gem but she has a long way to go before she can reach her target so please, if you can possibly donate some money it would show Gem just how much her endeavours mean to everyone. Joy Clinic now has a roof on the two small wards and all the money Gem raises will go towards more building work. With your help, brick by brick we will complete the building of Joy Clinic! Get in touch if you would like to know how to donate…..please!
Another of Gem’s favourite sayings:

St James June Newsletter part 2 – Joy Clinic, Amazing Gem, Gem’s accident!

Progress on Joy Clinic. Below is the latest photo of Joy Clinic. The walls of the treatment and delivery rooms are up and recently the roof went on. I learnt recently that Joys father was a doctor and when he saw her struggling to help the Nakakabala community, delivering babies in the tiny home where she and James lived with their six children, his greatest wish was for a clinic to be built. Lets hope he is looking down and seeing what is happening now! The photo is of Joy as a midwife. Everyone misses her so much!
We are still a long way from completing Joy Clinic with lots of fund raising still to do but once again we are receiving help …………Geminy Maw, a 26 year old from Macclesfield, who found us funds for the borehole last year, has taken on a challenge to cycle solo to ‘Berlin and Back on a Bike’ to raise awareness and money for Joy Clinic. Her motto is ‘Spreading Smiles Across the Miles’

and with her smile she certainly does that!

She has had an amazing time meeting amazing people. This saying ‘There are no strangers, only friends we have not met before’ comes to mind! Gem even ended up living with a family whose mum is a teacher and Gem spent a day in her school talking to the children about her life, her trip and Uganda! DO READ HER BLOG! There is so much more to read about her trip and Gem herself!

Unfortunately, last week Gem had an accident. Everything was going very well and she had got as far as Bremen in north western Germany but then as she was crossing the city her front wheel got stuck in a tramline and with the heavily laden bike she came off falling hard on her left arm and was in a great deal of pain. She was soon surrounded by caring people and ended up staying with two of them. She had X-rays at the hospital and the good news is that nothing is broken ‘just’ badly bruised. She has been given pain killers and told to rest up for two weeks. She was so upset and disapointed, worrying about how things would turn out and that she wouldn’t raise the money she wanted to do for Joy Clinic. Typical Gem, she doesn’t want to let anyone down! She very sensibly is following doctors orders and after spending a few days resting has ‘got a ride’ to Hamburg to visit friends who weren’t on her route which is a bonus. Hamburg is famous for its street art and graffiti and someone did this special painting for Gem! Amazing!

I had another communication from Gem recently to say she is still in quite a lot of pain so has made the sensible decision to take more rest BUT knowing Gem as I do the saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’ comes to mind. This is what she wrote in her message today:

‘due to this accident tho i have connected with the people behind the bicycle movement in bremen hu have been great, they want to do a story on me, connect me with other people in hamburg or berlin and maybe cycle with me for a while when i leave bremen. i have also been asked to b the star in my own short movie as part of a 48hour movie making festival in hamburg so i am going to try and take my bike and mostly empty (as i cant manage the weight) panniers back to hamburg for the weekend and fingers crossed we get accepted and find a team to pull it together.
i am about to go to the city bike center where u can go and learn to fix ur bike for free and ask them to have a look over and make sure its all ok before I use it!
i also took part in a critical mass last friday in hamburg, where cyclist ride in a group and take over the road. i was one of about 4,000 and had a great time tho i couldnt do it on my bike and i was rather sore but still at the end it was well worth it!’

You can follow Gem’s Blog at and please show your appreciation of her efforts by sponsoring her if you possibly can. Thank you!

Best Selfie ever! Amazing Gem in Holland!

Best ‘selfie’ ever! Keep it up Gem – your smile IS spreading! Family, friends, countrymen(!) lend me you ears, your eyes and your hearts to view Gems website and show your support if you are at all impressed with her amazing dedication and love for those at St James Junior School in Uganda who desperately need our help. It is so easy to donate on her website so please do! Help her raise the money towards the completion of Joy Clinic which will provide medical help to all my lovely friends in Nakakabala. Thank you!

AMAZING GEM sets off on her challenge to ride To BERLIN & BACK By BIKE

This morning, as you can see by the attached photo, I saw Geminy Maw, 26 years old and from Macclesfield, off from Stockport Station where she is travelling to Peterborough to practise some ‘wild camping’ with her friend Leslie before heading to the ferry on Saturday to start her solo bike ride to Berlin & Back to raise money to complete Joy Clinic for St James Junior School and the community of Nakakabala in Uganda!

I still can’t quite believe she has gone to do such an amazing challenge and feel quite responsible for her, though there was no way I could have stopped her going, I did try! Gem has got the spirit, determination and resolution of her late grandmother Maria Maw, so all I could do was help her on her with her praparation, wave her good bye and get her adequate insurance cover!

I recently wrote this message on Facebook: ‘Gem is one very special young lady who has a big heart for helping others in particular those at St James in Uganda. Through    her many fund raising schemes including a sponsored swim, selling    the beautiful jewellery she makes, organising fun events in New Zealand and just being someone people want to listen to, Gem has    already helped to provide a water harvester and, as she was working towards raising funds for a    borehole, so impressed her boss, that he offered the balance needed!    Please enjoy following this latest challenge to ride solo to Berlin    and back on a bike and sponsor her if you are able. You can donate    on line or through me. An ENORMOUS THANK YOU from Gem, me and all    those children and their families who will benefit from Joy Clinic!’

I would really love to get her as much sponsorship as I can to make all her efforts worthwhile, so please could you share the story with your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues about Gem’s ride and the reason for it and see if anyone would be interested in sponsoring her please? I know it is only recenlty that many of you sponsored my Swimathon so this is a big ask, but it would be wonderful if you could find your way to ‘reward’ Gem and sponsor her too if you possibly can!

Please take a look at her blog: in particular her Home page which explains what she is doing and there is a link to the website that is being created for me too!
Attached is information about the progress of the clinic so far and photos including one of me with my certificate for the Swimathon and in the You Tube video the two young men digging the foundations are Grace and Norman who were among the first pupils at St James. They are now at secondary school and to earn money to pay their fees they do work for us.

THANK YOU for reading this!

Hope to hear from you soon.