Thousands of walkers and cyclists aiming to raise £150k for churches

Charlie Haylock and Jo Burge, in the Rolls Royce, at the launch of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride

Charlie Haylock and Jo Burge, in the Rolls Royce, at the launch of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride at Holbrook Picture: RACHEL SLOANE - Credit: Archant

Around 3,000 walkers and cyclists will be taking a grand tour of Suffolk’s churches today to help raise cash for the upkeep of some of the county’s most historic places of worship.

More than 660 churches and chapels will be open as the Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride takes place.

Walkers and cyclists - plus some people in classic cars - will be plotting routes to visit as many churches as they can, sponsored to raise funds for their chosen church and also the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, which supports repair work at churches.

"This nationwide fundraising event started in Suffolk in 1982 and we are still the best supported county on the day," explained Patrick Grieve, chairman of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride.

"As people peddle or walk around their chosen route it is fun to meet up with others taking part and there is a great atmosphere.

"The sponsor money collected will be divided equally between a chosen church and the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, who give grants to help restore and repair the ancient buildings that are at the centre of many communities."

Last year more than £150,000 was raised.

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Mr Grieve said: "This year's Ride and Stride event will also have a motoring section for vintage and classic cars.

"The owners are polishing their cars and, just like the walkers and cyclists, they will be visiting churches on the day, setting off from their allocated Suffolk historic house, on a type of treasure hunt, ending at a prize-giving at Long Melford, in the afternoon. We expect over 50 cars will take part."

The motorists will be given their starting point and a route map, while walkers and cyclists choose their own route, as short or as long as they wish.

Charlie Haylock, the Suffolk dialect specialist, writer and raconteur, will be taking part, as will Jo Burge and his Rolls-Royce 20/25 roadster, and 15-year-old Arthur Wildish, who has taken part in every Ride and Stride since he was eight years old.

Mr Haylock said: "I'm not putting on lycra to cycle, but I am looking forward to putting on my well-worn walking boots, I hope to visit all the churches on the Shotley peninsula."

Sponsor forms are available today in Suffolk churches - meaning there is still time to take part. Donations and sponsorship can be collected via Just Giving.

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