Ride and Stride 2020
Over the summer, it wasn’t certain that this year’s Suffolk Historic Churches Trust ‘Ride and Stride’ would go ahead. However, thankfully the 39th event, first staged in 1973 was allowed to take place on Saturday 12th September and once again it turned out to be a beautiful day.
Mr Murphy and his two daughters, Molly (10) and Lucy (9) joined Hugh O’Neill (former head teacher) to represent the parish of St Edmund’s. Having recovered from a cycling accident a couple of years ago Hugh bought a classic racing tricycle to aid his recovery and thought that using it in this year’s event would add to the challenge.
We met at St Edmund’s at 9am, where Father Michael, helped us set up a table in the porch so that visitors could register their visits and, after signing in ourselves, we set off. As in previous years we bagged the low lying fruits of St Mary’s and St Edmundsbury Cathedral before setting off North to the Fornhams.
At St Martin’s we were welcomed by a lovely man, who commented on our Irish sounding names, and after a brief chat, we saddled our bikes (and trike) to travel another mile to All Saints, where we met a lovely lady who was very pleased to see some younger rides participating in the ‘Ride and Stride’.
From there, we, headed back to the Fornham roundabout before continuing northwards to St Mary’s in West Stow and were greeted by a very jolly man who was a retired Maths teacher from Culford. After we had let on that we were also teachers, Hugh and him discovered that they knew quite a few retired teachers in common.
Although liquid refreshment and biscuits were in shorter supply than in previous years, Molly and Lucy really appreciated being offered a chocolate bar, to provide them with the energy to climb the hill to Risby, after a brief visit to the lovely church of St Catherine’s in Flempton.
Hugh managed to put in a break on the ‘Col de Risby’ to claim the King of Mountains shirt, but kindly waited for the Murphys to catch-up at the crest of the hill to join him for his ceremonial ride in to the fine building of St Giles (where Hugh and Mr Gingell used to take History field trips to see the medieval wall, the 15th century font and one of the most intricately carved 15th century rood screens in East Anglia).
Upon our arrival we instantly recognised the friendly lady who was welcoming visitors to the church as Hugh helped her with her crossword two years ago. Unfortunately, this time she hadn’t quite started it, so we were unable to test our general knowledge. However, she did have a fine collection of conkers from the churchyard and kindly let Molly and Lucy take their pick as a small memento of their visit and for some classic children’s entertainment when they returned home.
At this point our paths diverged as the Murphys headed for home, enjoying the descent back into Bury St Edmunds along Mere Lane (clocking in 15 ½ miles in total, and Hugh headed off for another 20 miles visiting many more lovely village churches to the south of the A14. All in all, it was a very enjoyable cycle and for an excellent cause. Thank you ever so much to everyone who sponsored us either through the school or through the parish.