PAGEANT - "Education is the future"

The Story of Pageant Projects

home > projects

Everything you need to know about Pageant

All the things you need to know about Pageant are somewhere on our site. Information about our projects is in sections on this page and in subsidiary pages, and you can always look at Frequently Asked Question

Links to sections on this and other projects pages are on Menu 2

What we do and how we do it

Pageant came into existence after a holiday in The Gambia in 2001 by Pippa and Ian Howard. They met a hotel guide who took them to the village of Bakalarr, on the north bank of the Gambia River, to visit a school. (More about the first visit) After their return to the UK, Ian and Pippa began to send materials and equipment to Bakalarr school, and Pageant was established as a UK Charity in 2002, specifically to support education and related projects in The Gambia.

Pageant's work still focuses on education, but we have expanded our activities to include workshops for teachers, help with local village enterprises and action to defeat that scourge of tropical countries - malaria.

Pageant is run entirely by volunteers - our members. Members pay an annual membership fee which covers our administrative costs. None of us get paid for our work, and we don't claim personal expenses. This means that every penny from fundraising events or given to us as a donation is used for our projects in The Gambia. Where Gambian people need financial assistance for the education of their children, we pay the money directly to the family who needs it.

Our Gambian agents (see below) ensure that an assisted student's family uses the sponsorship money for their education and that all fees, book charges etc are paid in the correct manner to the school. If we need to buy things, we try to spend money in The Gambia, rather than here. This avoids shipping costs, and encourages the local economy. The Gambia is a very poor country, so costs and wages are low. All of this means that Pageant's method of operating is extremely efficient, and even a small donation can do an awful lot.

Pippa, Ian and other Pageant members travel to The Gambia regularly, usually in the ‘winter season’ months between October and April, when they visit schools and sponsored students, and check on the progress of various projects. Our work in The Gambia is thus very much hands-on. We are not simply pumping aid into a black hole. In between times our marvellous agents looks after things and keep in touch with us by email.

New and Recently Launched Projects

In this section, we highlight some of our recently launched projects, which you might not have heard about yet:

Carol Grace's Half Marathon

Pageant members Carol and Richard Grace are regular visitors to The Gambia. After several years helping us there, they have decided to launch their own Pageant project. Actual details will be finalised later this year, but Carol has already decided to start fundraising for the project, with a target of £500. She has entered for a half marathon at Donnington Park on Sunday 15th November. You can see more on Carol's fundraising page, where you will find a link to make a donation.

Jo Conlon's Marathon

Jo Conlon, a Sussex based artist and designer, was overwhelmed by the generosity, warmth and kindness of everyone she met while on holiday in The Gambia early in 2015. During her trip, while on a visit to a local school, she noticed how keen the children were to learn. Jo decided she would like to help, and her researches led her to Pageant. She decided to raise money for us, and has entered in the 2016 Brighton Marathon. You can follow news about her fundraising and training on Jo's fundraising page, where you will find a link to make a donation.

Catherine Marriott's fundraising for Albreda LBS

Albreda is a historic town on the north bank of The Gambia River. When Pageant first visited its Lower Basic School, in 2014, the school buildings were in a bad state of repair. One classroom block was roofless and in ruins, the school kitchen was dilapidated and the toilet facilities were inadequate.  Since that first visit, Pageant has built a new toilet block and helped to build a new kitchen. The school was working a two shift system to cope with increasing numbers of pupils, so rebuilding the ruined classroom block was also an urgent priority. Pageant has already helped to build a new kitchen and also a new toilet block. Catherine Marriott visited the school in January 2015, and decided to start fundraising for the estimated £2000 needed to re-build the ruined classroom block. Work has already started but Catherine is still fundraising to get the work finished. Please have a look at our Albreda page for updates on the progress of the building work, and if possible make a donation to ensure that the work is completed.

Pageant's agents and other people in The Gambia

Pageant could not function without the dedicated work of our agents in The Gambia:

Kemo Ceesay was Pageant's first agent in The Gambia, from 2001 until he left Pageant in 2007. Pageant also has several lady 'go-betweens' who run the Pageant loan schemes.

Pageant member Linda Murgatroyd lives and works in The Gambia. She has been Pageant's UK representative in The Gambia since 2007. Pageant has been able to help with projects in schools where Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) work, as Linda has worked for the Peace Corps during her time in The Gambia and maintains links with the PCVs. (more about Peace Corps Volunteers)

Where we work

Bakalarr was originally the main focus of Pageant's activities, but we have slowly expanded our work to include schools in other areas, especially away from the tourist strip near the coast. 'Up River' villages are easier to reach than they used to be, as the main roads both north and south of the river have been considerably improved since we started our charity. For instance, a journey of some 120 miles to Jarreng used to take most of the day, with overnight accommodation being essential, but now the return trip can be accomplished in one (long!) day.

Our projects are listed in a series of linked pages listed below, which also includes the topic of fundraising. Without your kind donations and innovative fundraising efforts, Pageant could achieve very little. There are also links to these pages in Menu 2.

The spelling of Gambian place names varies, and many have entirely different alternative names. We have used what we believe to be the most commonly used versions. Other versions are listed as aka: Just for the record, Banjul was once called Bathurst!

Pageant Projects - Associated Pages

Pageant is a UK Charity - Registered No 1093963