Visionary community work praised by bishops during their Suffolk trek

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, right, and The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harris

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, right, and The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, enjoy a cuppa after finishing their pilgrimage. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Two bishops have paid tribute to the visionary community work they encountered on a 10-day Lent pilgrimage as they walked 80 miles around Suffolk.

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley and the Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison were aiming to gain a better understanding of the daily challenges faced by the public – and to learn how Christians can make a difference.

Inviting people to join them on the walk, the bishops visited schools, churches, businesses, a prison, priory and military base.

Bishop Martin, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “We have learned so much more about our county and the wonderful people who live and work here.

“We met people who have set up community projects, started new businesses, and in one case developed a new school, and then gone through the ups and downs involved in building them up.

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“What seems to make our county work is vision and determination and perhaps, above, all the relationships that bring people together and enable them to work together.”

Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike, Bishop of Dunwich, began and finished each day with a prayer service at a church.

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The expedition began at St Stephen’s Chapel, Bures, and finished at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, having followed a route that took in the villages of Cavendish, Keddington, Little Thurlow, Exning, Worlington, as well towns Sudbury, Mildenhall, Haverhill, and Newmarket.

Highlights included St Mary’s Primary in Bures, Gainsborough Silks, Haverhill Arts Centre, Clare Priory and Nethergate Brewery, the US Airforce base at Mildenhall, the Branston Pickle factory in Bury, as well Highpoint Prison.

Bishop Mike said: “It has been marvellous to see some of the highly skilled work going on in our county in quiet and understated ways. Visits to the schools and engaging with the children and young people was a particular highlight – such openness to learning and such challenging questions!

“One of the most impressive aspects has been the way in which individuals are developing the fabric of our social life by showing vulnerable groups care and attention – unsung yet vital work, through community and arts groups and churches reaching out to the isolated and lonely.”

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