WEST Dorset MP Chris Loder joined participants from all over the county on Saturday in the annual Ride and Stride for Churches organised by the Dorset Historic Churches Trust (DHCT).
Starting from Sherborne Abbey, the MP cycled to a number of surrounding villages to visit churches, at many of which he has previously rung the bells or played the organ.
The Ride and Stride is the chief fundraiser for the DHCT and has raised an average of £80,000 a year over the last five years.
A network of local organisers all over the county co-ordinated a small army of walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders on Saturday. Their aim was to raise cash which is distributed in grants to churches with sagging roofs, sinking foundations, leaking windows and many other problems which afflict ancient listed buildings.
In recent years, more than £110,000 has been distributed annually.
The MP, who is a long-standing member of the DHCT, was pleased to be involved and support this cause.
“I know how important our parish churches are to their towns and villages, never moreso than now”, he said.
“As a former Parochial Church Council member, I also know how expensive repairs to our historic church buildings can be. So, it is a pleasure to be able to help out by getting on my bike to support Ride and Stride once again.”
Chairman of the trust, John Stokoe, thanked Mr Loder and all the participants who took part and enjoyed the beautiful Dorset countryside on Saturday.
He commented: “We’ve had to do a few things differently this year because of the virus, but we felt it was really important still to go ahead, as the need to support the county’s architectural heritage is as great as ever.”