50 churches in 50 hours around the UK – Can this charity chief executive do it?

Peter Aiers, chief executive of the Churches ConservationTrust (CCT), will visit 50 churches in 50 h

Peter Aiers, chief executive of the Churches ConservationTrust (CCT), will visit 50 churches in 50 hours Picture: CCT - Credit: Archant

A charity chief will attempt to visit 50 churches around the country in just 50 hours to raise funds in a bid to fight heritage crime.

Peter Aiers, chief executive of the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), will take on the challenge to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the charity while attempting to raise £50,000 to tackle the heritage crime epidemic.

In 2018, there were 63 reported incidents of heritage crime in the UK at churches in the care of the trust, compared to 36 in 2017, representing an alarming 75% rise.

Mr Aiers, who will travel by a wide range of transport during 'The Great National Steeple Chase' including classic car, speedboat, microlite, motorbike, helicopter and even unicycle, will visit All Saints' Church in Icklingham, near Mildenhall, as part of his journey.

MORE: Nearly 250 thefts reported from Suffolk churches over the past three yearsHe said: "This challenge highlights that historic churches are an intrinsic part of the English landscape and help to define where we live.

"Sadly, many of these public buildings have been victims of heritage crime - a persistent hazard for all our churches.

"I hope that by spotlighting this in my challenge we will be able to raise funds and awareness to combat this ever-present threat."

Mr Aiers' route begins at the remote church of St George on the southerly tip of the Portland Peninsula in Dorset on Thursday, July 25.

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His journey will take him as far north as St Stephen's Church, just outside Newcastle, before ending at the 50th church - St Mary's Edlesborough in Buckinghamshire two days later.

MORE: When thieves steal lead from the church roof, they steal the heart of the communityAlong the way Mr Aiers will meet with volunteers and local groups who do vital work caring for historic churches.

He added: "Each historic place of worship I will visit has its own unique story to tell and is also a reflection of the support that the Churches Conservation Trust provides to communities who do the hard work in caring for their churches.

"These are local assets as well as being of national or indeed international significance."

People can follow Mr Aiers' progress on social media via Twitter, Instagram @TheCCT #TheGreatSteepleChase and on Facebook.

Anyone wishing to donate can click here.

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