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Unique memorial honour for Hope Valley pioneer

Former Hope Valley businessman and pioneering Rotarian Ian Charles,   who died earlier this year, is to be given a unique honour for his campaign to educate young people in remote parts of The Gambia by providing them with bicycles no longer needed in the UK.


Ian was the driving force behind Hope Valley Rotary Club’s backing of a ‘Jole Rider’ charity initiative to source and collect pedal cycles of all shapes and sizes, arrange any necessary repairs and ship them to deserving children in Africa who live up to ten miles away from the nearest school.

In May 2013 the Tetbury-based Jole Rider team announced that the 12,000th cycle to be shipped abroad would carry a special badge with the name of Ian Charles engraved on it as a permanent record of the former Rotary Club president’s tireless efforts. Ian introduced the Jole Rider project to the Hope Valley Club soon after the charity was formed and members immediately set about collecting bikes from all parts of the region.

During the past seven years, more than 500 cycles have been packed into containers, along with educational books and other materials, at Ian’s Bradwell Packaging premises for transportation to The Gambia where youngsters not only learn how to maintain the bikes but frequently customize them so that each machine can carry up to three people.   Once the youngsters finish their education, the bikes are reallocated to other students in need of them.

In addition, over 100 cycles were shipped to India, where they were converted into tricycles, enabling them to be used as hand-powered, road-capable, wheelchairs.

The Jole Rider initiative proved such an outstanding success that Ian was honoured with a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship, the highest accolade in the Rotary movement. And it was largely due to Ian’s campaign that Hope Valley Rotary Club was awarded a much-coveted Rotary International Britain and Ireland 'Environmental Award'. Only one Environment Award is made each year to a Rotary club in the RIBI area covering the UK & Ireland.

After a ceremony when the 12,000th bike to be shipped to Africa, specially badged up in honour of Ian, Jole Rider's chief executive and co-founder David Swettenham said that “Ian Charles was one of our early supporters and was still supporting us to the last. He was a tremendous ambassador for our work and we shall always be grateful for the time and effort he spent raising awareness of the charity in the Midlands. When Ian died, Jole Rider lost a truly great friend.”

Local & national Press coverage

This example is from The Matlock Mercury (courtesy of  our press writer: Rtn (H) Ron Eyley PHF)