Preacher records her story about life in The Gambia

MISSION Dee Symons with the manuscript for her book about working in The Gambia as a Methodist preacher. Below, Dee in Africa

MISSION Dee Symons with the manuscript for her book about working in The Gambia as a Methodist preacher. Below, Dee in Africa

Nasser Mian and Logan Austin, 15

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A TIRELESS charity worker has written a book based on her experiences in The Gambia, drawing on more than 100 trips she has made to the African country.

Dee Symons’ book, Confessions of a Local Preacher, is her own take on her work in the country and her role as Methodist preacher.

Dee in Africa

Dee in Africa

The 72-year-old has been visiting the country regularly since first going there about 35 years ago and falling in love with the place and the people.

The retired nurse – dubbed the Angel of Gambia – has travelled across the country running bush clinics, as well as helping set up a physiotherapy service at a hospital and getting funding for children to go to school.

Dee, of Fort Fareham Road in Fareham, said: ‘People seemed to think it would be a good idea for me to write a book years ago and I thought “Yeah, I’ll do it one day”.

‘When I eventually got around to it, I began to write and it just grew and grew. Everything in it is absolutely true, but I have changed some names. I’ve tried to write in a humorous way, but there are some parts that balance it out.’

She says out of all her experiences, there are two in the book that really stood out.

‘There was this time where I was confronted by a group of young men who wanted medicine,’ she said. ‘They surrounded me and were demanding medicine, shouting it over and over again.

‘I gave them a box of laxatives. I never saw them again.’

In stark contrast, Dee recalled a young woman offering her her dead baby daughter and asking: ‘Can your god wake up my baby?’

Dee said: ‘What on earth do you say to that? I could only say that Allah and my God had taken her to a better place.

‘She still comes to see me, gives me a big hug and brings me a couple of oranges or bananas from her home but we never speak of that day.’

The book will first be available at a concert her charity Harmony Gambia is hosting at Ferneham Hall in Fareham on June 18. The show stars the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, with guest vocalist Sian Bibby-Hsia and tickets cost £15. For tickets call 07938 504808 or 07931 462813.

Details on how the book will be sold later have yet to be confirmed.

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