We are welcomed with smiles and expressions of gratitude!

Life Award 2013

Myself, Mark and Watson were up at 05:30am (21/01/14) to travel to a very cold and foggy Gatwick airport for their flight to Gambia.

When we arrive Mark and Watson are told off for joining the wrong check-in queue despite all the signs stating Monarch check-in – All destinations. A rather abusive individual tells them they had joined the queue for people that had spent £10,000 with Monarch this year! Not a very good start.

We boarded on time but sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes before the plane finally took off. The flight was excellent and we were well looked after by the Monarch cabin crew. Surely the grumpy git in Gatwick can’t be associated with Monarch!

There was a lot of cloud over France, Spain and Portugal as we headed South which cleared as we reached North Africa.

The Sahara Desert is interminable, it seemed to take longer to cross its vast tracts of undisturbed sand than it took us to reach it from the UK.

We arrive in Banjul airport on time despite their late departure. Everything went swimmingly until customs, when all three of us are pulled aside to explain why we have large amounts of brass taps and shower fittings in our luggage!

The simple mention of Bansang Hospital and Anita Smith and we are welcomed with smiles and expressions of gratitude for what we are doing on behalf of the people of Gambia.

After passing through the gate into the arrivals area we are escorted to the hospital’s vehicle. The air conditioning inside is most welcome. After cold and foggy England, sunny and hot Gambia (32 degrees) takes a little getting used to.

We spend our first night at Luigi’s which is only 20 yards from the beach and all the fruit sellers and beach bar people seem to know of Anita and Bansang Hospital and express their gratitude for what they are there for.

It is very humbling to experience.

We enjoy dinner with Anita, Paul and Vanessa who have built a database for the hospital pharmacy.

We have an early start tomorrow as we are to meet the Honourable Minister for Health, Omar Sey before we begin our 6 hour drive to Bansang.