Visit Somerset supports Pedal Power to support Somerset Churches  

11 Sep 2019

Launched by the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Right Reverend Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton over the summer, Ride+Stride is the flag ship fundraising event for Somerset Church Trust and this year takes place on Saturday 14th September. Supporters walk, cycle, drive or even ride a horse between the participating churches and other Christian places of worship and raise money through sponsorship and donations. The Somerset Churches Trust was founded in 1996 and over the last 23 years has given away more than £740,000 in grants to over 400 churches across the county.
Revd Richard Neill said;
I am very pleased to be supporting the Somerset Churches Trust as they do a really important job in supporting Christian churches of all denominations across the county. I enjoy cycling and the Ten Towers route around the Cheddar valley and the levels takes you through some beautiful parts of the county and to some beautiful churches. At the same time, I can raise some funds for the Somerset Churches Trust. It’s a win-win situation”.
Richard will be cycling around the Ten Towers route, a thirty mile route, visiting eleven churches  including St Mary’s Church Wedmore, St Leonard’s Church Rodney Stoke, St Peter’s Church Draycott, St Andrew’s Church Cheddar, St John the Baptist’s Church Axbridge, St Andrews Church Compton Bishop, St Andrews Loxton, Blessed Virgin Mary East Brent, St Michaels Church Brent Knoll, Holy Cross Mark and Holy Trinity Blackford.
On August 5th, St Michael’s Church in Brent Knoll, one of Ten Tower churches, was the victim of theft, with thousands of pounds of lead taken from the North Isle roof of the church. Rainwater has caused damage to the interior of the building, potentially threatening a medieval ceiling which dates back to around 1490. An appeal has been launched by the church to raise the funds to replace this lead.
Michael Auton, Somerset Churches Trust Ride+Stride Co-ordinator, says;
The Somerset Churches Trust was established to provide support and grants to churches, chapels and places of Christian worship across Somerset. What has happened to St Michael’s Church is terrible and will really impact on the congregation and community of Brent Knoll. The Trust offer grants to help with repairs to the main fabric of the building, support internal improvements to the church or towards cost of installing roof alarms, ensuring the church remains at the heart of the community.
Over 175 churches across Somerset will be opening their doors to welcome walkers and riders like Revd Richard Neill. We are thrilled that he has taken time out from his busy schedule to give support to Ride+Stride. We hope that cyclists and walkers across the county will join him and the many others taking part in Ride+Stride to enjoy the beautiful Somerset countryside and help make a difference to our communities”.
John Turner CEO of Visit Somerset has said; “Our history and heritage is a vital component of Somerset cultural fabric and must be protected at all costs. Our churches hold some of the most incredible secrets from our past. Knowing that Somerset is possibly the oldest county in the UK, it is vital that we do all we can to protect our past for the future of our local and international visitor economy, Visit Somerset is delighted to be able to support this project”.  
Taking part could not be easier. You can walk, cycle, drive or horse ride between churches in your parish or further afield. Decide how many you want to visit and plan a fun and interesting route between them. Are there any special historical sites or points of interest you could incorporate in your route to make it more interesting for your sponsors?
If riding or walking are not to your taste, you can still support the Somerset Churches Trust by holding a special coffee morning, bring and buy sale, flower show, bell ringing or other fundraising event on September 14th, so helping support communities across the county. Should you choose, 50% of the money you raise will be donated to your nominated church, charity or local group.
For more information about how to get involved in Ride+Stride, or to discuss what plans you have in your local church or community, contact Michael Auton by emailing or phone 07862 253514.
For information about the Somerset Churches Trust, visit
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Notes to the Editor
  1. The Somerset Churches Trust (charity number 1055840) is a non-denominational charity which gives grants to churches and chapels across the county of Somerset. It provides help with repairs to the main fabric of the building, but also improvement works such as better access, kitchens and other facilities that will keep the building at the heart of the community.
  2. The SCT has allocated over £740,000 in grants to over 400 churches across Somerset since 1996. Last year, nearly £34,000 was given to 15 different churches.
  3. In 2018, Ride+Stride raised over £16,500 and 152 churches opened their doors to welcome riders and striders.
  4. The Somerset Churches Trust has available grants of up to £2,000 towards the installation of roof alarms against damage to roofs or theft of lead. Incidences of lead theft throughout Somerset and the country as a whole have increased in recent months; the consequential loss of lead theft through damage to the interior of the buildings often far exceeds the cost of the lead itself and insurers now severely limit cover on these risks unless an alarm has been fitted. Further information on the available grants can be found on the Trust's website.
  5. Organised crime has moved into metal theft, targeting church roofs and bringing a threat of violence to anyone who tries to tackle them, the National Crime Agency (NCA) says. Its latest strategic assessment of serious crime suggests that, after a period of sustained decline, a recent rise in metal prices has attracted criminal gangs, making metal theft one of the fastest-growing crimes globally. Offences in the UK increased by 25 per cent in the year ending March 2018, compared with the previous year.
  6. The Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, Claire Walker, said: “The inclusion of metal theft in the National Crime Agency’s 2019 Strategic Assessment is both disturbing and reassuring: disturbing, as it shows that metal theft is a crime that is increasingly being carried out by organised gangs who see churches as an easy target; reassuring, in that the UK’s lead agency against organised crime realise just how serious a crime metal theft is, and have made it one of their priority areas for 2019/2020.
Visit Somerset supports Pedal Power to support Somerset Churches  
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