Bikes and cars met up enroute – here at Woolpit Church (photo by Martin Males)

The annual fundraising event for Suffolk’s church buildings went ahead on Saturday 12 September and now the sponsor money from hundreds of cyclists, walkers, runners and church volunteers has largely been counted, the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust are pleased to announce that the total far exceeds last year’s achievement.

So far, with more money still coming in, sponsorship has raised £157,000, exceeding last year’s total of £128,223. Usually over 500 churches take part in the fundraising day which is organised by Suffolk Historic Churches Trust. Not surprisingly fewer churches were open to receive the hundreds of participants, but the average raised per participating church was well up. 

“In March, when the Ride and Stride was planned, any reservations we had were outweighed by the enthusiasm of our organisers, and the continuing need for funds for the Trust. It was a challenge, and we have all been surprised and delighted at the response from riders, walkers and their generous sponsors. Some riders and parishes who did not participate nevertheless sent in handsome donations. We would like to send our profound thanks to all” said Patrick Grieve, Chairman, Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride. “With cash still coming in, hopefully we can take the figure over £155,000.”

Participants in Ride and Stride chose their own route around Suffolk’s churches, visiting as many or as few as they wished, and their sponsor money will be divided between their chosen church and the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, who will use their half to give grants to churches for much needed repairs to their building or for improved community facilities. 

For the second year Ride and Stride was joined by Pedal & Drive, its sister event for vintage and classic cars, which also went ahead with all relevant safety measures. A hundred cars many of which dated back to the 1920’s set off from various points in Suffolk to enjoy the churches and compete in a tricky quiz. The Trust is pleased to announce that the drivers raised an additional £14,000.

“The Suffolk Historic Churches Trust are deeply grateful that so many people all over Suffolk made the effort to turn out on September 12th to bike, walk or drive their old vehicle to raise money for the upkeep of our glorious legacy of churches and chapels, and indeed, to all those who opened their church to welcome visitors. Each one of them decided to go ahead despite Covid 19 concerns,” says Geoffrey Probert, Trust Chairman. “We will ensure their effort and the monies they raised are rewarded in much needed repairs to many Suffolk churches”.

The Suffolk Historic Churches Trust has continued to give out grants throughout the coronavirus pandemic and welcomes applications from churches and chapels. The most recent grants, totalling £10,500, were awarded in October. Grants went to All Saints Hartest, All Saints Ashbocking for roof repair work, The Unitarian Meeting House in Ipswich towards providing an accessible toilet, and St Mary’s Pakenham for alterations to enable increased community use.

In 2021 Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride, and Pedal & Drive, will be held on Saturday 11th September.

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