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At their meeting on Tuesday 23 June the Trustees discussed the possibility of running Ride + Stride this year. They considered three options: to run it as normal, which is clearly not possible under the current restrictions; to cancel it or to arrange a modified event. They decided to run a modified event. Their decision was based on a careful assessment of all the factors and can be summed up as follows:

COVID-19 has caused so many events, including fund-raisers, to be cancelled this summer. The situation is easing now. DHCT would like to provide an opportunity to have a great day out in our beautiful county, on bikes, horses or on foot to raise some much-needed funds for your church and churches across Dorset. Some may not want to take part this year, favouring other charities instead, but DHCT is keen to keep a traditional event going and not to let it become yet another casualty of the pandemic. We hope that churches and their supporters will join in with a modified form of R+S which is being designed to minimise any risk of infection between people or contamination of churches. On 22 July, we will publish the usual, but modified, instructions for R+S. These are now on the website and will be distributed by Parish Organisers in the next 2 weeks. To avoid handling cash unnecessarily, we have made it much easier for donors to sponsor their church through JustGiving. We have opened a dedicated bank account which will facilitate bank transfers.

We hope that you understand the decision and that you will take up this opportunity to keep a great Dorset tradition going even in a difficult year. Click here for the latest on R+S 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on our summer programme of events

The programme of Friends Church Crawls, which was due to start on Thursday 28 May, has been postponed until later in the year. 
The party to celebrate the achievement of the organisers, participants and sponsors of St Mary, Sturminster Marshall in raising £1841 in Ride + Stride 2019 and thereby winning the Morshead Trophy, set for 11 May, has been cancelled. We will do our best to get the newly-inscribed Trophy to St Mary's as soon as we can.    
Many of you will know that the Trust was founded in 1960 by Sir Owen Morshead and Kenneth Smith; we had plans to celebrate our 60th Anniversary on 9 July in Sherborne but, as this would have brought supporters from all over Dorset, we have regrettably cancelled that too.    

Burton Bradstock receives £10,000 on completion of major repairs to window and wall

The Parochial Church Council of St Mary’s Burton Bradstock has been able to carry out essential restoration to the wall and the window of the South Transept of the Church thanks to the support of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust (DHCT). Other monies have been raised through donations and legacies and annual fundraising efforts. Without such generous support it would be impossible to maintain the fabric of this important Grade 1 listed historic building.

The work entailed the removal and re-setting of the leaded window, the repointing of the external face of the wall and the re-plastering of the internal face using traditional lime based materials. These will enable the wall to “breathe” and dry out more easily.

The works were specified and supervised by Daniel Cantrell of Stark Crickmay, Architects and carried out by C G Fry and Son, Builders of Litton Cheney.

The cost was in excess of £30,000 and the DHCT grant of £10,000 was instrumental in making it possible.

The DHCT awards grants of over £110,000 each year for restoration and development projects in the county’s beautiful parish churches and raises funds each September with the sponsored Ride+Stride event.

Rector the Reverend Jane Williams said: ‘One of the things which convinced me to come to work with the churches across the Bride Valley was this project at St Mary's Burton Bradstock. It was clear that this church was forward-thinking since, even whilst they were in vacancy, they were keen to progress God's mission in this community and ensure their church building is fit for worship in the 21st century.

‘We are unable to meet in our church building at the moment due to the Covid-19 restrictions. When this changes, I'm sure I'm not the only one looking forward to a brand-new way of worshipping together, made possible by our updated accessible and welcoming space.’

2019 - a very good year for fund-raising and grant-making

£106,500 promised in grants for restoration projects

Dorset Historic Churches Trust has been very pleased to make grants of £106,500 for church restoration projects all over the County in the last year.

Churches, which make up 45% of all the Grade 1 listed buildings in England, are important community hubs especially in rural areas but are often costly to maintain. The Trust, as a major conservation charity devoted exclusively to the county, plays an important role in helping these beautiful and historic buildings to continue serving their towns and villages.

The majority of the Trust’s funding comes from the annual sponsored Ride + Stride which takes place on the second Saturday every September. In 2019, a remarkable £84,632 was raised, thanks to tremendous effort by hundreds of people all over the area. A rare dry and sunny day encouraged a great turn out, supported by many generous sponsors.

Over £84,000 raised for Dorset’s historic churches in the annual Ride + Stride

To celebrate the success of the Ride + Stride, a trophy given in memory of the Trust’s founder, Sir Owen Morshead, is awarded every year to the church which has made an outstanding contribution to the fundraising. While the formal handing over of the trophy by Lord Shaftesbury, which had been planned for 11th May, has been cancelled due to the restrictions required by the Covid-19 virus, the Trust is pleased to announce that the winner is St Mary’s, Sturminster Marshall. Their team is pictured below.

Our Chairman, John Stokoe, is delighted that, in its 60th year, the Trust continues to make a vital and important contribution to Dorset’s historic churches which help to make our County attractive to so many people.

DHCT’s principal source of funds is the annual sponsored Ride+ Stride (R+S) for Churches around Dorset’s over 300 churches and chapels of Dorset. In 2019, nearly 175 parishes took part raising £84,632. Subject to the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions, R+S 2020 may take place, perhaps in a modified form, on Saturday 12 September.


Tom Wickson, Trustee, 01747 833663

 The Sturminster Marshall team prepare to set off on Ride + Stride 2019. They attracted £1841 in sponsorship and were awarded the Morshead Trophy.  

Repairs supported recently include at St Andrew’s Church in Preston, Weymouth, and St Peter’s Church, Shaftesbury, both of which were granted £5,000 towards the cost of projects to repair stonework. Similar plans at St Mary’s Sturminster Marshall and at St Candida and the Holy Cross, Whitchurch Canonicorum, were granted £7,000 and £10,000 respectively. This incessantly wet winter has heightened the need for maintenance to ancient roofs and walls.

The image on the left is of Holy Trinity West Lulworth undergoing repairs to its tower. A lavatory and galley has been fitted which will greatly increase the usability of the church. The Trust granted £6,000 towards this work.   

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