Get out and help out with the Ride and Stride

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Congregations across Oxfordshire are being urged to “get out to help out” the county’s churches by taking part in an annual event that raises money for the upkeep and repair of places of worship.

Covid safe Ride and Stride. Rev Alec Gill at St James Church West Hanney.

Ride and Stride 2020 takes place in Oxfordshire on Saturday, September 12th – and people can still register to get involved. The event sees members of the public all over the country sponsored to walk, cycle or ride a horse from one church to another.

It is something that is particularly important this year because of the impact that the pandemic has had on church finances across the UK.

Speaking at the local launch of the event, at St James the Great, West Hanney, the Revd Alex Gill, associate vicar of the Vale Benefice, urged people to sign up and take part.

“Churches and other places of worship have not been immune to the effects of Covid-19,” said Alex. “We rely a great deal on donations and these have been affected by the long-term closure of all places of worship.

“That’s why I am calling on people to ‘get out to help out’ and help raise money for the upkeep of some of the most historic and beautiful buildings in our communities.”

Nationally, Ride and Stride raises more than £1million every year, with Oxfordshire contributing around £100,000 to this.

Oxfordshire Ride and Stride organiser Hilary Cakebread-Hall said that the pandemic meant that 2020’s fundraiser was likely to be slightly different from previous events.

But Mrs Cakebread-Hall, who is also chairman of Ride and Stride nationally, said that it would still be a great event.

“There are not going to be lots of churches open and armies of volunteers welcoming riders and striders,” she said.

“But the churches will be there – they haven’t gone anywhere for hundreds of years in many cases – and it remains a fantastic way of getting out as a family or with friends to see some of our great countryside and wonderful buildings.

“Churches and other places of worship are important to people of faith and people of no faith. They are often the most beautiful buildings in their communities and they are the location for some of the most important events in our lives – baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“They are also, more and more, also a place where the wider community comes together, something that Ride and Stride helps them to do by providing grants for modern facilities.”

The event is organised locally by Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust. You can sign up for Ride and Stride in Oxfordshire at the trust’s website.