As an annual charity cycle ride in aid of Suffolk’s churches approaches, one Mildenhall pensioner is hoping he will be able to take part in his 14th consecutive ride.
Alan Benton has undertaken the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT) bike ride on different routes around the county since 2002.
Every year the 72-year-old puts together a slideshow about the history of the places on his route, giving annual presentations in the Church Hall in Eriswell.
Despite ill health in the past year, Alan hopes he will be well enough to partake in this year’s ride on Saturday, September 12.
“I had a mini stroke in December and now have dementia. I intend to do this, but only time will tell,” he said.
“This year I’m hoping to start in Framlingham, there will be plenty of history there.
“Last year I went around Constable country, there’s a lot of history out there too.”
The local history enthusiast’s charity rides for the SHCT began with a route planned by a friend from Bury to Stowmarket and back again - a total of around 40 miles.
“I’d never even biked 20 miles before, but somehow I did it and it have been great ever since,” he said.
“It’s a huge pleasure to me. It’s a big occasion for me every year, something I really look forward to.
“I’d hoped at one point to cover all of Suffolk, but I can’t see me getting out to the coast now! I think I’m getting close to around 50 per cent.”
Alan said he ‘tries to avoid’ places like Bury and Newmarket, sticking to the ‘fringes of the towns’, and never rides in his own parish of Mildenhall.
“I like to discover these new places on my routes. I’ve been through places I didn’t even know existed,” he said.
“My last route had history with Constable, Gainsborough and the Pilgrim Brothers, that was a presentation with loads of history.
“Sometimes with small villages I struggle to find enough to say about them in a talk, but it’s still great. I’ve only been rained on once in 14 years!”
Alan has extended an invitation to any other riders who will be in the Framlingham area to accompany him on his ride. He can be contacted on 01638 715492.