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Bard's Ride raises money for churches

Every year on the second Saturday in September, the Warwickshire and Coventry Historic Churches Trust (WCHCT) holds a big fundraising day for the preservation and repair of church buildings. This year's event was called the Bard's Ride and James Kerr, Churchwarden of Pillerton Parish, reports on how it went.

In past years WCHCT's fundraising day has been known as 'Ride and Stride' and parishioners were encouraged to cycle or walk in support of their church and the trust. This had been a successful formula enabling the trust to give grants to churches in need of our help. However, in recent years the trust have seen a significant drop in income as less riders have come forward to support their parishes.

This year, the WCHCT updated the concept and rebranded the day as the ‘Bards Ride’ - turning it into a single event on planned 18 and 40 mile routes plus an 8-mile walk. The aim was to extend our appeal to a wider community; the ever increasing ‘MAMIL’ – (middle aged man -and woman - in lycra) and to family groups interested in the history and heritage these wonderful churches can provide. The event started at Newbold and the route covered some of the finest countryside in the area before ending at Honington Hall – a very special setting where tired riders and walkers could relax and enjoy delicious refreshments. Nearly all the churches on the routes were open. The Edgehill ringers rang the bells at three churches including Honington, which added wonderful resonances as a backdrop to the event. At Barcheston the new organ played throughout the day for the enjoyment of all.

Unfortunately, despite vigorous publicity, only a disappointing 45 people were signed up to the Bard’s Ride before the event. However, on the day, our hard work aided by glorious sunshine was rewarded with a total of 117 people turning up. Reactions from participants have for the most part ranged from the ecstatic to the mildly encouraging. We do hope for more clergy and parishioners’ enthusiasm and support in future years to turn the Bard’s Ride into a much larger event. The Bard’s Ride encourages non-churchgoers inside the walls of these remarkable edifices and raises funds so that future generations can enjoy historic church buildings. Could there perhaps also be a mission opportunity to engage with so many new faces visiting our churches?