“Church crawling is the richest of pleasures” (John Betjeman). A sentiment which I am sure is endorsed by the 350 cyclists and walkers (plus one eight-year-old horse-rider) who turned out on September 8th in support of Wiltshire’s churches. The added bonus with Ride+Stride is that of enjoying Wiltshire’s green and pleasant countryside, as well as getting a friendly welcome at a number of churches.
“Having done Ride and Stride as a child in Suffolk in the early 80s, it was brilliant to be doing it again, and I hope Tidcombe will be a regular supporter. Johnny loved his time in the saddle (he’s very good at it!) visiting churches he’d never been to, as did Andrew and myself. Johnny said Preshute was lovely, with a lovely lady who gave him a cup of tea!” (Katharine Jellicoe, Tidcombe)
“Jenny, Simon and 2 friends visited 41 churches in the Vendée. The terrain varied between tarmac, rolled gravel, cart tracks, forest trails, rubble, disintegrating concrete and sand!. We do not have electric bikes, and two of us have four total knee replacements between us – no barrier to enjoying cycling!” (Jenny Phillips, Seend)
“We want to say a big thank you for sponsoring us on our 20 mile cycle ride to 15 different churches. The best part of the ride? Comparing the biscuits on offer at each church. As well as old churches, we saw lovely streams with fish, steep muddy lanes that weren’t on the plan, trees to climb and churchyards to rest in. And at the end we felt great!” (Robert and William, aged 7, Salisbury)
It is often the smaller parishes that raise the most money: the villages of Compton Chamberlayne, Garsdon, Lydiard Tregoze, Mildenhall, Preshute and Shalbourne all topped the £1000 mark. Salisbury Cathedral did well, but otherwise it would be good to see the big town churches getting more involved. It is a pleasurable activity and a relatively easy way to raise money for one’s church. Old age need not be a barrier – walking to one or two churches counts as participation, (and mobility scooters are permitted). This year there were at least a dozen participants aged over 80, one of whom cycled to 11 churches.
The good news is that for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, we have raised over £50,000, which with the addition of Gift Aid takes us past £60,000. Many congratulations to all who contributed.
Some notable achievements:
As usual there have been some excellent achievements. One of the smallest parishes in the county, Tidcombe, raised over £4,000 (only, a week or two later, to suffer the cruel misfortune of losing the lead from the church roof). St James, Bratton continue to set an example, with more than 40 participants ensuring their stranglehold on the Brooke Cup. The Junior Group Cup was won for the second year running by the nine youngsters from St Mary’s, Grittleton., while twin seven-year-old boys from Salisbury Cathedral School cycled 20 miles to 15 churches, raising £1,100. One enterprising couple took R+S across the Channel, cycling to 40 churches in the Vendée region and raising nearly £2,000 for their churches in Bremilham and Seend.
The 2018 Ride & Stride is on Saturday 14th September; maybe readers of this who are PCC members could prompt your colleagues into action?