On the second Saturday of September each year, cyclists and walkers set out across Suffolk on a sponsored journey from church to church raising money for the fabric of our churches and chapels – with the proceeds shared equally between the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust for future grant giving and the participant’s chosen church. The Trust plan that Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride 2020 will go ahead on the customary date – adapting, as necessary, for whatever Covid 19 guidelines advise on the day.
Everyone taking part can choose their own route and visit as many or as few churches as they wish, on foot, bike or mobility scooter. Even though it may feel a bit different this year, and may possibly be a smaller event than normal, the Trust has decided to go ahead with this year’s Ride and Stride, as well as its sister event, Pedal and Drive for vintage and classic cars.
“In view of the importance to the work of the Trust of our main fund raising event, we are doing all we can to ensure the event goes ahead on the 12th September,” explained Patrick Grieve, the Chairman of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride. “Churches and chapels are now open for services provided social distancing is observed and Government guidelines for sensible health precautions followed. Not all churches may be open for Ride and Stride on Saturday 12th September, and there may be no one to welcome or sign you in, but two or three people cycling together in the Suffolk countryside or walking in our towns should be perfectly safe, Never before has there been a greater need for support for our places of worship.”
Churches that usually offer refreshments may decide not to do so this year and, if a church is not manned, riders and walkers will log the name of the church themselves. “Since most people are sponsored per event rather than per church this shouldn’t be a problem, and sponsorship can also be collected via JustGiving,” Patrick continued. “Many more people are walking and cycling since the lockdown, so this event will give them an ideal focus for their efforts! It is a free event and we just ask for you to get sponsored by your friends and family.”
“There has never been a more important time for our church finances,” added Trust chairman, Geoffrey Probert. “Fundraising to repair these beautiful Suffolk churches has been halted because of Covid and this is a way to help them. Indeed, we hope that those supporters who do feel comfortable taking to their bikes will make every effort to get extra sponsorship this year.”
Sponsor forms are now available and cyclists and walkers can start deciding their route, ready for the event on Saturday 12 September.
With the cancellation of the Goodwood Rally this year, owners of vintage and classic cars in Suffolk will also welcome the opportunity to join in Pedal and Drive on the same day.
“The format will be much as last year with each driver allocated one of half a dozen historic houses to assemble at before making their way across Suffolk, stopping at a few churches to answer their quiz questions, en route to meeting together on the Upper Green at Long Melford. Again, we will follow whatever Government guidelines are for sensible health precautions, come September”.
Car owners need to fill in an entry form available on this website.
“Last year Ride and Stride, and the sister Pedal & Drive Car Rally, raised £137,000 in one day,” remembered Patrick Grieve. “Throughout the year we give grants to help with the restoration, repair and to improve facilities, in churches and chapels. It is often the only community building available for local people to use for events, as well as church services. Grants have continued to be given, even in the lockdown.”
The organisers will be following Government guidelines. “If the Covid situation was to deteriorate to the extent that it became unwise to go ahead, we will not hesitate to cancel and get the word out there. If you are uncertain whether the event is still going ahead please check on social media or this website,” said Geoffrey Probert. “But we very much hope it will be full steam ahead. Finally I would like to record my gratitude to all those who work to organize the day and to all those intrepid bicyclists, walkers and car drivers who turn out on the day to raise money for the good cause”.
For more details of how to take part in Ride and Stride contact the Local Organiser in your area via your local church, or via this website.