The Ardingly Old Jeshwang Association was set up in 1993 by Dr. John and Margaret Dale in response to a direct approach by the Old Jeshwang Village Development Committee. This village in The Gambia, West Africa, some distance from the capital, Banjul, was worried about the healthcare of women and their babies in the pre-, peri- and postnatal periods, lacking a local facility to cater for their needs during this vital time and without adequate transport to a suitable hospital.
As former healthcare professionals, John and Margaret visited Old Jeshwang to assess for themselves the viability of such a project (locally called a ‘Tesito’ – self-help project) and, as a result, formed the Association as a Registered Charity in England, Wales and The Gambia.
The village, having secured a site for the Clinic, set about designing a suitable building, requesting competitive bids for its construction and cost estimates all the while also considering the equipment and staffing of the facility to meet local and international standards.
With initial site work being completed by local labour, a successful bid to the U.K National Lottery Fund enabled construction to take place and the Old Jeshwang Maternity and Child Healthcare Clinic was formally opened in 2002.
Since that time, various projects have been successfully completed further to enhance the services the Clinic now provides to the extent that the Clinic is now a major hub for medical services in and around the village and has been accepted as part of the healthcare provision in The Gambia as a whole.
When John Dale passed away, his place as Chair of the Association here in the U.K. was taken on by Steve Doerr, another Ardingly resident who had been a teacher all his working life and, aside from being a key figure in the life of the church and village of Ardingly, had served on our Committee from the outset as Vice Chair.
Very sadly, Steve himself passed away suddenly in December, 2021 having directed the Association through some major projects and improvements, made more difficult due to the travel and other restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus Pandemic. His place has now been taken by Lynn Wilson, Ardingly resident and former Director of Redcoat Express, with Peter Tomlin as Vice Chair.