'Riders + Striders' take to the roads to save England's churches

Published: Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Over 10,000 cyclists, walkers and mobility scooter riders, and Joey the Dog, are aiming to raise £1.5 million to save England's historic churches as they take part in the 'Ride+Stride' on Saturday, 12 September 2015.

The annual charity fundraiser for the repair of historic churches and chapels will see 8,000 places of worship opening their doors to welcome ‘Riders+Striders’, who are sponsored to visit as many churches as they can in a day.  

Animals are also welcome to take part in the event. In Nottinghamshire, Joey the Dog, a black labrador, will again be taking part in ‘Ride+Stride’. Last year he raised £35 for the church of Stokeham, near Retford, where he was sponsored to greet visiting cyclists and walkers. 

The main threats facing historic churches include failing roofs, gutters, downpipes and high level stonework, with damage often caused by high winds and rain. 887 of the churches most in need of rescue are currently on Historic England's 'Heritage at Risk' Register. 

‘Ride+Stride’ started in Suffolk in 1982, the idea of Judith Foord. Since then over £33 million has been raised nationally to fund urgent church repairs.

Bear Grylls – "Join the Ride+Stride adventure"

Bear Grylls, Author, Television presenter, Chief Scout and national 'Ride+Stride 'supporter said: “Many historic churches, chapels and meeting houses are battling to survive. Roofs leak, ancient timbers rot and medieval stonework crumbles. Now you can help by joining the 'Ride+Stride' adventure, a sponsored bike ride or walk discovering beautiful churches, which also raises money for their repair and preservation.” 

Kevin McCloud  - "Cherish our churches" 

Kevin McCloud, British designer, writer and television presenter best known for his work on the Channel 4 series Grand Designs, and Patron of 'Ride+Stride' in Somerset added: “Our churches are our historic and cultural touchstones – in our landscapes, built environment, family histories and our communities. They embody faith, beauty, craftsmanship and collective memory. So we should cherish them.” 

A great day out discovering England's churches 

As well as raising much needed funds to stop churches from crumbling, ‘Ride+Stride’ also gives visitors in search of a day out the perfect opportunity to discover England’s beautiful and historic churches and chapels, some of which will be open specially for the day. 

The majority of churches will be open between 10am and 6pm, with many running guided tours and providing locally made refreshments including cakes, home grown plums and ginger beer.

‘Ride+Stride’ around England 

The event is organised by local churches trusts across England. Places of worship taking part include those belonging to the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, the Quakers and the United Reformed Church. The event will be live on Twitter @RideandStrideUK with the hashtag  #rideandstride and is also on Facebook


‘Riders+Striders’  use of a wide range of transportation. Cycling is the preferred option and in Shropshire, David Mitchell, will visit churches on his 1881 Penny Farthing.  


Meanwhile in Worcestershire, keen cyclist Martin Dickinson will visit churches in  Himbleton, Inkberrow and the Lenches with friends Rodney Hodgkins and war veteran Michael Johnes, who is proposing to take on the challenge on his mobility scooter.  “We’re keen to encourage as many people a possible to join us,” said Mr Dickinson. “If cycling doesn’t appeal, you can choose any other mode of travel for sponsorship,” he added. 


Many church leaders around England will be taking part in Ride+Stride. They include The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher OBE. His 27 mile route will take him to churches and chapels in and around Abingdon. in Oxfordshire. 

Churches to visit

 The Ride+Stride website  at www.rideandstrideuk.org gives full details of how to take part in the event and includes an interactive map with information about the best churches to visit.  They include: 

  •  St Michael’s Church, Up Marden, West Sussex  

The favourite church of Hugh Dennis, Actor, Comedian and Writer who said:  “St Michael’s is a beautiful downland Church without power or electric light, as befits a place of worship over 1000 years old. It is a fantastic place of calm, and for contemplation.” 

  • All Saints Church, Bisley, Gloucestershire  

The favourite church of Jilly Cooper OBE, Author and Journalist, who said: “My favourite church, All Saints, Bisley is built of grey and Labrador-yellow Cotswold stone. Its soaring spire, topped by a gold weathercock, can be seen for miles around, and was a landmark which guided the bomber pilots back home to Gloucestershire during the last war.” 

  • Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire  

The favourite church of Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, Actor, who said: 

“Other than my boyhood Church – Mirfield Parish – it is the Church in which I have spent most time and the remains of William Shakespeare lie in front of the altar. The building and William Shakespeare gave me comfort, calm and inspiration.” 

  • St James, Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire  

In the year in which Richard III was laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral, there’s a chance to visit the church of Sutton Cheney, where he is believed to have heard his last Mass before his death at the Battle of Bosworth. 

  • St Mary and St David, Kilpeck, Herefordshire 

In Herefordshire, there’s a chance to see the magnificent 900 year old stone carvings in the Church of St Mary and St David in Kilpeck, a few miles south of Hereford, one of nearly 50 churches on the Welsh borders displaying the extraordinary church sculpture commissioned by the Norman rulers of the Welsh marches. 

  • St Peter, Walpole St Peter, Norfolk 

If you want to be spoilt for choice, Norfolk, with over 600 churches has to be your choice. Norfolk has more medieval churches than anywhere in northern Europe. One of the finest is St Peter’s Church in Walpole St Peter, the favourite Norfolk church of poet, writer, and broadcaster  John Betjeman.  One of the largest churches in the county, it is known as the 'Queen of the Marshlands' - it is a large, ornate building dating from the 15th century.  Inside it is full of carved bench ends and painted saints and the Fenland light floods in through the many windows.