Ride+Stride 2021

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The Bishop of Dorchester, who recently cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats, is among those taking part in a charity event to raise funds to preserve Oxfordshire’s historic churches. The Rt Revd Gavin Collins, who was consecrated as bishop earlier this year, completed the epic journey in just under a fortnight with his son in 2020. Now he’s getting in the saddle again for a significantly shorter trip on 11 September, to take part in Ride+Stride.

The Rt Revd Gavin Collins with his bicycle at St Michael’s Church in Begbroke, wearing a helmet and hi-vis jacket.

The Rt Revd Gavin Collins at St Michael’s Church in Begbroke for Ride+Stride. Photo by Richard Cave.

Getting out as a family

An annual sponsored bike ride or walk between places of worship, Ride+Stride is a national event. Locally, it’s organised by the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust (OHCT). Launching the 2021 Oxfordshire event at St Michael’s Church in Begbroke, Bishop Gavin called Ride+Stride; “a fantastic way of getting out as a family or with friends to see lovely countryside and beautiful buildings”.

He added,

“The idea of people getting out there to raise funds to support the preservation of our historic churches is obviously something that I am behind – particularly as cycling is something that I am very keen on. I think we sometimes forget that churches are important to both people of faith and people of no faith.

“In most instances, they are the most attractive buildings in their village or town, as well as being the place where some of the most important events in our lives – baptisms, weddings and funerals – take place. As well as this, they are increasingly becoming the places where communities in general come together, and this is something that Ride+Stride helps them to do, by providing the funding for modern facilities.”

More important than ever

Hillary Cakebread Hall is chair of Ride+Stride nationally and also the Oxfordshire organiser. Mrs Cakebread Hall said, “Raising money for churches is more important than ever at this time. Churches rely for their funding entirely on local donations – there is no central funding at all for the upkeep of the building – and the suspension of services during the pandemic has meant that contributions have really dried up.

“Congregations and communities around local churches have done so much to support vulnerable people in society, and taking part in Ride+Stride would be a great way of recognising this.”

OHCT is a volunteer-led organisation that provides funding for the repair, maintenance and improvement of the county’s historic churches. In 2020, it gave out just over £250,000 to local churches.

Ride+Stride raises more than £1m nationally every year, with Oxfordshire typically contributing around £100,000 of this. Participants do not have to attend a church or place of worship to take part. All money raised by participants goes to the local organising historic churches trust to distribute. Some choose to donate half of their funds to a church of their choice. Details of how to take part can be found at ohct.org.uk/ride-and-stride.