CYCLISTS took to Oxfordshire’s countryside over the weekend to tour of some of its finest churches while also raising money to help maintain historic churches across Oxfordshire.

The annual Ride and Stride, organised by the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust, is thought to have attracted hundreds of people and was opened by the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Rev Colin Fletcher.

Riders were encouraged to visit as many churches as they could. It coincided with the trust’s 50th anniversary this year.

Last year’s event raised almost £130,000 and organisers hope to have topped that this time round.

On Saturday the Bishop started the event at St Mary’s Church, in Uffington, near Faringdon.

He said: “I did it last year for the first time and I am doing it again this year, which is the 50th anniversary of the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust which makes is extra special.

“Because of a boundary change, Uffington and the other churches we are visiting have only recently come into my pastoral care so I will be visiting a number of churches I don’t know.

Cycling between these churches is a lovely thing to do and I am with a lot of lovely people.”

Hundreds of churches across the county took part in the event, which raised money for the historic churches trust through sponsorship. Entrants cycle between churches and “sign in” to each one.

The more they manage to visit during the day, the more money they raise Fixed sponsorships for the whole day are also raised.

Cash generated for the trust goes towards grant funding it provides to churches to help with repairs, maintenance and restoration projects.

The Ride and Stride is its biggest single source of income.

Henley MP John Howell also joined cyclists for the day, launching a group from St Mary’s Church, in Pyrton, near Watlington.

He said: “It is a worthwhile cause with which everyone can help by either getting our and around the church on bike, foot, horse, by being at the churches to welcome those sponsored, or by signing up to sponsor people.

“There is something for everyone.”

The total amount raised is still be calculated.

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