Ninety-nine year-old charity cyclist Norman Gregory's delight at bumper year for Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride fund-raiser
A 99-year-old charity cyclist from Cockfield is delighted an annual fund-raiser he regularly takes part in topped £175,000 in 2020.
It was the biggest total raised by the one-day Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride for 10 years.
At 99, Norman Gregory is the oldest participant. The World War Two veteran has been taking on the challenge for the past 13 or 14 years.
“I cycle with my friend Norman Kelly and we raised £4,500 this year, cycled 35 miles and visited 12 churches. The sponsor money is for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and St Peter’s Church in Cockfield, where I live,” said Norman.
“In total in 2020, I cycled 5,000 miles but this year it is only about 200 so far – but I have had a bit of bike trouble.”
Norman is one of hundreds of cyclists and walkers who choose their route around churches for Ride and Stride Day, on the second Saturday in September each year.
Half the money raised goes to their chosen church or chapel and half to the Trust, which organises the event and distributes grants to help fund church and chapel building repairs and improvements.
Patrick Grieve, chairman of Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride, said: “Having carefully considered the threat of Covid, we resolved to go ahead last year, following Government guidelines and strict social distancing.
“Most churches decided to open, although some were not manned. The response was amazing. Cycling and walking in the Suffolk countryside appealed to many and we raised the most amount for 10 years. My thanks to all who opened churches, rode, walked and to those who generously sponsored them.“
The sister event, Pedal and Drive, for historic and vintage cars, raised £14,000 on the same day.
“Well done the intrepid drivers, and a big thank you for their generosity too’’ said Geoffrey Probert, Suffolk Historic Churches Trusts chairman and Pedal and Drive organiser.
“All in all, a bumper year and one which will be welcomed by the churches who perforce have been closed for long periods with a resulting impact on their church plate. Of course, all the money raised will help us offset some of that by allowing the trust to step up our grant aid for the upkeep of Suffolk’s wonderful legacy of churches and chapels.”
The next Ride and Stride and Pedal and Drive events are on September 11. For more information, go to www.shct.org.uk