Fund-raisers ride and stride in aid of Suffolk’s churches

Suffolk Historic Churches Trust bike ride and walk. Bethany and Sara Whymark stop at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on their walk. ANL-150914-114809001
Suffolk Historic Churches Trust bike ride and walk. Bethany and Sara Whymark stop at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on their walk. ANL-150914-114809001
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While the Tour of Britain was racing its way across Suffolk on Saturday, hundreds more cyclists and walkers were setting off to raise money for the county’s churches.

I was among those who took part in the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT) bike ride and walk, tackling the 17 participating churches in Bury St Edmunds.

After nine years of cycling around churches in the south-west of the county, my walking companion (my mother) and me decided to take a route through my new hometown.

After the recent devastating thefts of lead from churches in Combs and Lavenham, this year’s fund-raising effort for the SHCT seemed all the more important.

Patrick Grieve, SHCT bike ride chairman, said: “As if the constant threat to our churches from wear, tear and weather weren’t enough, the theft of lead has become an increasing problem, with two serious cases last month.

“The trust is working with the Diocese and insurers to counter this. The Bike Ride is a practical way people can do something, and has never been more needed.”

The 3,000 participants in 2014’s event raised £140,000, and organisers are hoping for a bigger total this year.

“There were reasonable numbers and many more children and parents out riding this year,” said Mr Grieve.

“The future of the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust bike ride looks good.”

We set off on an unexpectedly sunny morning, reaching 14 of the town’s churches and even managing to capture a glimpse of the Tour of Britain front-runners as they raced past St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

As well as raising money for the trust, and fitting some exercise into the weekend, the event gave us a chance to explore the town’s churches.

From the blue balconies of the United Reform Church in Whiting Street, to the modern fixtures of All Saints in Park Road, it allows you to appreciate how vital the work of the SHCT is in helping maintain these fabulous buildings.