Throughout Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire cyclists and walkers are preparing for a great fun challenge on September 14 – the annual Bike ‘n’ Hike event organised by the Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust.
“Should anyone think that this is just another fundraising stunt thought up following the cycling enthusiasm generated by last year’s Olympics, then they need to know this has been a firm fixture on every second Saturday in September for more than 20 years” said counties organiser Madeline Russell.
“The object is to visit as many churches as possible on the day either by bike or on foot , carrying sponsorship from friends, colleagues and family.
“Some of the more energetic riders have notched up more than 30 churches, others who prefer a gentler pace perhaps just three or four. There are plenty to choose from with 600 churches of all denominations opening their doors to participants, giving them a chance to look round and relax, with perhaps a welcome soft drink or cup of tea as a bonus.”
All this activity is to benefit the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Historic Churches Trust which relies on the income generated to provide cash support for churches and chapels in the two counties struggling to meet the cost of repair.
“Last year just short of £100,000 was raised by more than 900 walkers and cyclists and we are hoping to top the £100,000 in 2013,” added Madeline.
“Half the money raised goes to back to a nominated church but the other half plus any gift aid is held by the Trust to be disbursed as grants through the year. In 2013 the Trust handed out grants of £164,500 facilitating £1.5m of repairs”.
The two counties have historic and architecturally beautiful church buildings of many denominations. There are modern ones too which are a focal point in towns and villages and the land and townscape would be much the poorer without them. Many are costly to maintain and the Trust can sometimes help by topping up local fundraising, turning a needed repair into a viable project.
Churches in Eggington, Heath and Reach, Hockliffe, Linslade and Leighton Buzzard have all benefited in recent years.
If you would like to join in or would like more information about the event see www.beds hertshct.org.u. Madeline Russell can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01767 312966.