Please go to our front page for the latest update on R+S 2020. The headline is that our participants and their sponsors have given us a record year with a total of £110,000 including Gift Aid. This exceeds our previous best year by £22,000. After real concerns that we might have to reduce our grants programme in 2021 if R+S was cancelled or people were unhappy to take part, we can look forward to a normal grants budget. Thank you for your support.
Our annual event went ahead on Saturday 12th September. Individuals, pairs and families set off in warm sunshine with only a light headwind to slow their progress to churches across the County. While they were expecting many of the churches to be closed or not manned because of Coronavirus, they were glad to find that most had signs up and were clearly supporting our single fund-raising event of the year. Here is part of what a new Rider wrote: "I just wanted to thank you for getting me going. I managed to get round 8 churches. I found churches I have never seen before, Holwell being one and Glanvilles Wootton being the other, and I went via my old favourite Pulham. I met such friendly people doing the same and I loved the friendliness of the other cyclists. It was all in all a very special experience and I really enjoyed it. I learnt how important it is to have your church welcoming and open, many were not but you got a lovely caring feeling from those that had opened" We are delighted that so many sponsors used our dedicated JustGiving R+S 2020 campaign page, which now stands at over £44,000 - a wonderful increase on any previous year. Donating through Justgiving saves a lot of effort - especially for the R+S Administrator and Treasurer who are very grateful.
Riders and walkers, with one long-distance runner, set off early from Sherborne Abbey for the 2020 Ride+Stride on 12th September. Great weather encouraged a good turnout for this year’s event - and spirits were high as the action got under way.
Things were having to operate a little differently this year because of the virus, and many churches were offering hospitality from tables set up outside, with doors closed to allow for services to take place the following day. Sponsorship is also largely being collected electronically through the website JustGiving – though with special arrangements to ensure that as usual 50% of the money raised is returned to the parish concerned.
Chairman of the DHCT, John Stokoe, explained that the need for financial support to church buildings is as great as ever this year. “We considered very carefully whether to go ahead this year with R+S, which is our largest annual fundraiser. But with careful distancing and appropriate use of technology we felt it would be safe to proceed.”
Among the enthusiasts setting off from outside Sherborne Abbey was Eric Jager, who explained that he was running for St James the Great, Longburton. “I have been building up my fitness and distances run each year,” he explained. “This year my aim is to cover up to 45 kilometres.” When he finished at Longburton he had actually covered 51kms - over 30 miles!
Others with more modest ambitions included Sue and John Bradshaw, the latter being led by his handsome guide dog. Later in the morning, after a constituency surgery in Bridport, local MP Chris Loder joined the party and cycled as far as Holwell in a much-appreciated show of solidarity with the ambitions of the Trust.
Sponsorship will come in over the next few weeks, but it is hoped that collections will match the figure of £80,000 which has been raised in recent years. The really important end result has been awards of grants totally over £110,000 annually.
Each year the Trust awards The Morshead Trophy for the parish which raises the largest sum in the Ride+Stride. In 2019 the parish of St Mary Sturminster Marshall, having gathered a strong team of participants and sponsors, attracted £1841 in sponsorship to win the coveted Morshead Trophy for the first time. Sadly it has not been possible to hold traditional Morshead Party to celebrate their success; we hope to do so one day. However, in a message on congratulation, the Chairman of the Trust, John Stokoe, praised the remarkable efforts of St Mary's and everyone who took part in the Ride+Stride across the County, and raised over £84,500 in 2019.
A great community effort by the tiny Dorset village of Chettle has resulted in its winning the prestigious Morshead Trophy for the outstanding effort in raising money in the Dorset Historic Churches Trust’s annual sponsored Ride+Stride event.
The Trophy, named after the founder of the Trust, Sir Owen Morshead, was handed over to the local parish organizer for the Trust, Alice Favre, by the Archdeacon of Sherborne, Penny Sayer, at a special ceremony at Chettle House on Monday 13th May.
The Chairman of the trust, John Stokoe, announced that the Ride+Stride event last September raised over £90,000 and that the largest single parish total was achieved by Chettle. As an expression of community spirit this was a case of “Small place: large result!”
Penny Sayer, who is newly appointed to her church role in Dorset, explained it was a joy to visit the varied parishes of the county as a new Archdeacon. Thanking those present, who came from all over the area, she added that it is a real pleasure of her job to visit these beautiful and thought-provoking places, especially to acknowledge a huge amount of hard work done by many to preserve and develop churches all over the area.
The money raised in the annual sponsored event goes to the maintenance of historic church buildings of all types and denominations throughout the county. Following the fantastic effort this year over £100,000 has been given out in grants for leaking roofs, crumbling walls and improved facilities in Dorset’s stock of historic and listed churches.
After the presentation, a reception was generously hosted by Mrs Rosamond Sweet-Escott on the terrace at Chettle House. Many of the enthusiastic riders and striders were able to be present and be thanked for their much appreciated efforts.
The Lulworths group, led by Revd Robert Marsden (extreme right), pause at Dagger’s Gate during their walk from East Lulworth to West Lulworth to Winfrith Newburgh and Chaldon Herring.
Revd Margaret Preuss-Higham, Lucy James and Mary Cutting prepare to start their walk from St Peter’s, Langton Herring to Abbotsbury, St Catherine’s Chapel and Portesham.
Bob Roberts celebrates cycling 65 miles from St Peter’s Langton Herring on the way to visiting 17 churches
In addition to one parishioner who bicycled for the Trust, a team from St Mary’s Church, Gillingham, led by Mrs Eileen Piper (left), opened a pop-up café on Saturday in the Vicarage School Room. Assisted by retired priest, the Revd Jeffrey Hall, the head waiter, they served homemade cakes with coffee and tea and light lunches of sandwiches, quiches and salads.
Ringing the Changes - Kate Forrester
For Dorset’s Ride + Stride for Churches this September, a group based at Bradford Peverell are ringing the changes this year - literally. Instead of simply cycling from one church to another, the group will start at Sturminster Newton and ring the church bells for about half an hour, then cycle along the North Dorset Trailway to the three further churches, repeating the ringing session at Shillingstone, Stourpaine and Durweston. They may also pop into nearby villages on the way to increase the total number of churches visited.
The Ride + Stride Ringers range from beginners to the experienced, from teenagers to those in their 60s. The whole enterprise is the brainchild of Janet Collins, an enthusiastic teacher of new ringers at Bradford Peverell. Said Kate Forrester, a new ringer, ‘I take part in Ride and Stride every year and this is a fantastic opportunity to ring some bells in different churches, which is very exciting for a beginner, whilst raising money for Dorset Historic Churches Trust!’
Sir Philip and Lady Williams plan to visit the four Great Churches of Dorset
As Dorset’s Ride + Stride for Churches draws nearer, people are creating yet more ways to take part. Sir Philip Williams, a Vice-President of Dorset Historic Churches Trust, and his wife Catherine will start at Christchurch Priory and, with a little assistance on the hilly sections from their electric bikes, will pedal to Wimborne Minster, Milton Abbey and to their destination at Sherborne Abbey. They plan to visit all four great Churches in Dorset on Saturday 8 September. Their sponsorship campaign is well underway to raise funds for the maintenance of Dorset’s precious churches, large and small. Their sponsorship will be divided equally between the churches of the Bride Valley and the Trust itself, which last year attracted £86,000 in R+S sponsorship and granted £114,000 to 18 churches in need of repair. For more information about how to support R+S or become involved go to www.dhct.org.uk or follow the riders on Twitter @ride+stride4dorset