Sunday the 15th of September 2019

After taking part in the Gloucestershire Challenge for Hope sportive for the last two years Will Hanks and his wife Fi, dedicated supporters of the Peace and Hope Trust and keen cyclists, have decided to put on a sportive in Hereford with the help of a bunch of friends. The challenge for Hope Sportive Hereford is based at the Hereford Cathedral School Sports Ground which has first class facilities for use by the riders and even though it is in the city centre there are very good cycle path routes out of the city.

Bike on gate

The event is being supported by the Gloucestershire team and is following the same successful formula for signing, catering and admin and so we are all looking forward to a well organised fun days riding. Will has set the routes and there are 25, 45 and 65 mile rides – including the Gospel Pass route within the 65 mile ride – to choose from with halfway stops providing homemade cake and refreshments.

For further information, please see the main sportive page here.

Peace and Hope’s Valeria Lopez founded Casa Rahab (Rahab’s House), a Christian centre where girls who have been, or are at risk of being, involved in the sex trade can get the help they need.

Valeria and her team seek to break the cycle of sexual exploitation by rebuilding trust, self-esteem and a stable emotional balance in the lives of girls under the age of 18. They provide all of the girls, who are referred to them by the police or local authorities, with a programme of therapy, education and vocational skills in a safe, Christian environment.

When the girls first arrive at Casa Rahab they are interviewed by the team’s psychologist, who designs an individual programme of therapy to help them recover from the trauma they have been through. A social worker helps them with any problems they are having with their schools and families, even offering parenting classes and therapy to their families.

The girls are taught life skills, such as how to take care of a home and how to cook healthy meals, as well as receiving help with their homework or being taught how to read and write. In order to help the girls find an alternative source of income to support themselves they are given vocational education.

The centre takes around 10 girls – some as young as 9. They all come from poor, uneducated families, and often they are at risk in their own homes. They appear strikingly young, as a generalisation, and generally come with a range of medical, mental and social problems.  We know that we’re addressing a small part of a massive global issue, but we do feel we’re making some headway.

We cannot readily publish pictures of the girls, for safeguarding reasons. We do monitor their progress and receive periodic reports and pictures from Casa Rahab…we just can’t publish them.

We cannot readily publish pictures of the girls, for safeguarding reasons. We do monitor their progress and receive periodic reports and pictures from Casa Rahab…we just can’t publish them.

Thank You,  Stephen Ind CEO.

The deadline of 31 December was upon us – our accreditation for importing goods was about to expire and it was just after Christmas before our container was finally cleared. It was then up to Valeria, our resourceful manager in Managua to set about distributing the hospital beds (etc). Unusual haste was required this time as the customs warehouse now gives us just one day – instead of the previous 20 days – to remove our goods.

Valeria had identified 2 public hospitals in Rio Blanco and Siuna, both a long way out from Managua, which can make very good use of our hospital beds and their easy-clean mattresses. She also has contacts in a home for disabled children, outside Managua, and a heap of mobility equipment was earmarked for those children. At the last moment, she got news of a fire last week at a Catholic ‘Seniors’ residence in Chinandega, and so a quantity of suitable goods were sent to the home.  It had lost much of its roof and most of its contents and is without electricity at present so needs all the help it can get.

Valeria has visited Chinandega – some photos are attached here – and she plans to visit Rio Blanco and Siuna too, if she can do so safely.

This container was significant in several ways. It was the first we’ve sent since the country’s violent disturbances in April; it was therefore also handled entirely by Nicaraguan helpers and volunteers, with some funding from the Peace and Hope Trust for in-country trucking costs; it was also a test for any changes in the administrative burdens imposed on NGOs such as ours, given the government’s recent suspicion that NGOs are funding the unrest in the country. We have learned from this (mostly successful) test consignment and are now more likely to send further containers in 2019, but we are keeping matters under constant review.

It’s our fourth year and we are open for entries.

I started this event as a ‘one off’ but I and those who help me all agreed we should do it again and now here we are on our fourth event. We are now a well- oiled team and can assure you we have a very well planned day for you all. The event is now listed on the British cycling website.

Our new entries secretary’s Ian and Rachel have the entry forms in ‘Word’ ready to ping off by email for you to fill in and send back to them by email. You can also find entry forms and more information on this site here as well as donate directly. You can also just bring your donation along on the day if this is easier. So three ways to enter and three ways to donate should make it simple for everyone.

This sportive is open to all. We welcome ‘the dead keen’ and ‘the family day outers.’ The ‘tandem duos’ and the ‘dressed to impress’ brigade. We welcome tricycles and electric bikes. You can bring an observer if you like and no you won’t need a gas mask because it’s all quiet country lanes. So please tell all your family, friends and workmates who have a bike and persuade them to come along! 

New Signage

We now have all the signage we need with loads of arrows to mark the way and warning signs for hazards ( of which there are few). We have banners to promote the event which will be deployed in March. 

New Catering

We have new catering arrangements in place and so the barbeque will be doing bacon baps with chutney until mid-day. We have a much bigger team doing cakes this year and so we can guarantee plenty of choice at the halfway stations. The barbeque will then open at one o’clock and be serving the usual high quality sausages and burgers from our local butchers with salad, chutney and veggie options also available. Tea coffee and soft drinks on tap all day. The event and the bar closes at Five o’clock

Saturday April 13th 2019, 8-30am start

Cheers, Ron.

Fashion Show


A huge ‘thank you’ goes to Jackie Cole for all her effort in staging a very enjoyable and financially successful fund raising Fashion Show.

Administrator required

The Trust are looking for a new Administrator to take over March 2019 (or earlier).  The position is voluntary and involves coordinating the administrative tasks that keep the work of the Trust legal, effective and up to date.  Job description available on request.

Due to the political unrest in Nicaragua the Trust has reluctantly ceased working on the ground due to the fact that we cannot get insurance cover for our volunteers whilst the British government is advising people not to travel to Nicaragua. However all our other activities such as fund raising and collecting donations of materials to send out there are continuing as normal and the dilemma we have is what to do with the huge amount of things we have and where to put more when it is offered as our warehouse is full to capacity.


We have approached other charities working in Rumania to help them by providing hospital beds and mattresses as we currently have over 60 beds and 200 mattresses in stock. This would ease the pressure in our warehouse. We could still send a container to Nicaragua but the problem is being sure the materials can be retrieved from customs and distributed as there is currently tremendous disruption due to protests and road blocks. The idea has been mooted to send a container of clothing and bedding etc to the Costa Rican refugee camps where a great many Nicaraguans have fled in order to escape the unrest. The problem with this is the time scale. It takes weeks for a container to get to its destination and the situation may well have changed by the time it arrives. It really is a dilemma but you can rest assured the trustees and staff are constantly in touch with our partners and helpers in Nicaragua and will do all they can to continue to support the people of Bluefields and other projects in the country. There are elections in March 2019 so the hope and prayer is this will bring some settlement to the conflict between the ruling party and the opposition.

Nicaragua has been poor but peaceful for many years, escaping the violence of neighbouring countries. In mid-April 2018 violent demonstrations broke out, triggered by a social security change, and at least 120 have died in widespread shooting incidents: now, roads are being barricaded, leading to food shortages, and the population is angry with Ortega’s government. There is no clear way forward and the unrest continues. All overseas development aid is on hold, and we fear for the safety of our friends. The churches in Nicaragua have been trying to help in reassuring and supporting the people.

Our manager, Valeria, and her family are safe but deeply worried – having been through similar scenes some decades ago. Our recent team’s visit to Bluefields was a huge success, building a new school and kitchen in less than 3 weeks; but we then had to take special measures to bring them out safely, avoiding the roadblocks. We cancelled the July team trip – with apologies to all booked to take part. We have no idea when it will again be safe to send out donated goods and working parties, and so our planned January 2019 trip is in some doubt.

In the meantime the Trust will watch and pray, monitoring the very scarce, partial and mostly partisan reporting from Nicaragua. It seems the world press isn’t interested, for the present, and fragmented social media reportage is (as we’d expect) unhelpful.

A great success !

That was the overwhelming feedback I got about this years rides and we raised a substantial sum of money for the Peace and Hope Trust which of course is the aim of all our efforts. Thanks to all of you who took part, Stephen Ind the C.E.O of The Peace and Hope Trust has asked me to send his best wishes and grateful thanks for all your support and of course he says this on behalf of all the families who will benefit from the work done by the trust in Nicaragua.

These photos above illustrate what the trust is trying to achieve by its school building programme.

School in BluefieldsSome of the older children attending the now fully operational school built during 2016/17 by six teams from the Trust in just under eighteen months in Bluefields on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. This new building replaced an old and very inadequate smaller building which housed 80 children. The new school caters for 160 youngsters and has its own kitchen so all the children get a free lunch provided by the government.


One of the classrooms fully decorated by volunteers, furnished and equipped from donations to the Trust. Notice all the children are wearing uniforms several of them will have been provided by the Trust because their parents can’t afford to buy them and they are not allowed to attend school unless they have a uniform. Education is free but uniforms are not!

feeding programme

A feeding programme set up by the Trust, the running of which was subsequently taken over by a local church and you can see Pastor Gonzalo signing the children in.
stone quarry
This is a stone quarry where some of the very poorest children come from.

stone quarryThe stone quarry supplies broken rock and stone chippings for concrete, all quarried and broken by hand. The men and women working here earn so little they cannot possibly afford to buy uniforms for their children so the Trust buys them and the children get an education thus giving them a chance of breaking the cycle and eventually leaving the quarry.

In the coming months I will tell you many more stories of how your money makes a difference!

putting up the signs

Congratulations to everyone involved from the sign fixers to the registration team, the traffic controllers and the 70 milers, the 40 mile gang, the family day outers and the odd eccentric window cleaner; we managed to raise just over £4,000 but the final figure will be quite a bit greater with all the promises of gift aid. When we have all the sponsorship and donations in and we have calculated the value of the gift aid I will let you know the exact net amount raised.

Lesson Learned!

ronThis is me trundling round the 70 route and yes 52 miles was far too far for the refreshments stop. I won’t make that mistake again! As for the shortage of food well all I can say is we were caught out by the number of entries on the day. We calculated the food based on the same formula as last year when we had cake left over, even though we had entries on the day. Based on last years experience we expected about 145 entries and we got 171. So I am very sorry some of the tail end riders did not get the food they expected. All I can say is we have discussed what happened and we WILL get it right next year. The same goes for the signage I will be ordering more arrows to make sure we have more than enough to clearly mark out the routes. It’s strange that we ran out because last year none of the teams struggled for arrows, I must have designed routes with a lot more junctions this year. Apologies!

Next year

I have not set the date for next years event as there are still a few things to iron out but it will be in early April. I am planning to get the date fixed by early June, the rides planned out and tested by the end of August and entries will open in September. If I possibly can I want to set up a payment method on line on the new website instead of you bringing cash on the day.

If I am to keep you informed of all that’s happening I need your written permission to keep your details on my database, with the new data protection regulations coming into force next month, and so when you get the request from me in the next day or so please add your name to the return email I send you and we can keep in touch – Cheers, Ron.

Photographs from the day!

(Click to enlarge)


A huge thank you and congratulations to Ron Swanick, for organising a brilliant day at the Sportive!

Ron crosses the finishing line at the end of an epic day of cycling, on a gorgeous spring day in Gloucestershire, with over 100 riders raising funds for the Trust.

Watch this space for more pictures and updates…