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The Gambia on a Gapper trip is a charity motorcycle odyssey down through North Africa to a place called Bansang in The Gambia. Once there, the bikes, spares etc. are handed over to the nurses & doctors at the Bansang Hospital, and the riders help out by volunteering for a week.

The Hospital

Bansang Hospital stands deep in the African bush, 200 miles east by road from the coast and is responsible for the health care needs of some 600,000 Gambians. Additional strains are placed on its extremely limited resources with the constant arrival of patients from, Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and refugees from Sierra Leone. The health care for this vast community is dispensed from within the walls of this small 160 bed facility that was originally designed and built by the British back in 1938 when the Gambia was part of the British Empire. Over half a million Gambians rely on the hospital to dispense effective, life saving health care.

The Charity

The Bansang Hospital Appeal is a UK registered charity (1064469) founded by Anita Smith MBE, MRG in 1992 as a result of her experiences during a visit to another hospital while on a family holiday in the Gambia. Shocked by the appalling conditions she found, Anita set out to do something constructive about the situation. On her return to the UK, she made contact with author Terry Palmer who had been to Bansang Hospital and saw first hand the truly desperate situation faced by staff & patients there. By late summer 1992 Anita had organised and shipped a 40 foot container full of surplus medical equipment & supplies to Bansang Hospital. She herself then went to Bansang Hosptial, and though utterly horrified by the conditions, she was inspired by the extraordinary dedication of the staff who managed to do so much with so little for so many. Thus was born The Bansang Hospital Appeal.

The Rider

Marc O’Loideoin has been riding motorcycles all of his adult life. From his early days working as a motorcycle courier and dispatch rider, he gained a unique insight into the hazards & problems faced by motorcyclists on the roads every day. This led him to later become involved in training riders, and subsequently he became involved in riders rights. Today Marc is a RoSPA qualified advanced riding instructor, and in his spare time he campaigns for riders rights with MAG Ireland, the Irish Motorcycle Action Group with whom he holds the post of training officer. Marc is married and lives in Dublin. He currently alternates between riding a BMW R100 GS and an old Guzzi depending on which he’s been longest without.

The Bike

c90-1The Honda Super Cub was first introduced in 1958. Originally fitted with a 50cc engine, the Super Cub evolved over time through a number of variants, but always retained the basic principles of simplicity & reliability. It is estimated that some 60 million variants have been sold worldwide making the little Honda the best selling motorcycle of all time. Efficient, reliable, cheap to run and easy to fix, the Super Cub became a mainstay of transport in many developing countries. Although superceded by newer fuel injected variants in European markets, production of the original Honda Cub continues today in parts of Asia, Africa and South America where it’s rugged reliability and efficiency continue to make it an essential mode of transport.