Ride & Stride 2017 report

Ride+Stride, always on the second Saturday in September, has continued to be an established item in the calendar of Essex churches, as well as an eagerly anticipated event for many of the county’s army of cyclists, and gentler, more leisurely, walkers. It is an enjoyable annual ritual for many people, as well as a significant fundraiser for the Trust. The day never fails to remind participants how fortunate the county is to have so many wonderful and diverse churches, and for those churches who throw open their doors to welcome visitors, it is a rare opportunity to show off their richness. Sadly, for good reasons, many churches remain locked when not actually in use, so it is particularly appreciated when the interior of churches can be inspected, however briefly.

9th September 2017 saw a return to good weather that Ride+Stride has enjoyed in the past, with the deluge of 2016 a mere blip. I was riding in the north of the county, and was very struck by the warm welcome I received in many of the churches that we visited. The refreshments were especially appreciated. It was nice to see how many of the regulars were taking part once again, and a new development in 2017 was the emergence of battery power assisted bikes (helpful in the hillier regions, but I usually advise its devotees to divulge their help to their sponsors).

Especial mention should be made of Song Cycle, the remarkable ‘all singing all cycling male voice quartet’ from Brentwood, and Mrs Libby Hill for her tireless efforts over many years. I must also record my sincere thanks to Ray and Beryl Clements, who serve as custodians of the not-insignificant amounts of correspondence (and payments) that Ride+Stride inevitably generates.

Although many of the regular participants are familiar with the Friends of Essex Churches Trust website and download the various documents themselves, some Ride+Striders and some church administrators prefer receiving the usual hard-copy mailings, and it was disappointing that we were let down by the printing firm entrusted with this in 2017. Steps have already been taken to ensure that this is not repeated in 2018, and the launch of our new website should ensure that it will be easier for those with internet connections and printers to have access to the various documents. £54,821 has so far been received for Essex and East London, slightly down on previous years.

Plans are already well under way for this year’s event on Saturday, 8th September 2018 and we are hoping to be able to announce by the time of the AGM an ambitious cycle tour around the whole area covered by the Anglican and Roman Catholic dioceses.

John Pickthorn

Organiser – Ride+Stride

E-mail: jejpickthorn@gmail.com