A MAJOR county-wide cycling and walking event is set to attract young and old to raise money for the upkeep and repair of our historic churches.

Ride and Stride sees members of the public all over the country sponsored to walk or cycle between churches.

This year’s efforts take place today, with the oldest Oxfordshire participant being a 94-year-old woman.

At the other end of the age spectrum are one-year-old twins Jonathan and Felicity West.

The twins, who live in West Oxford, will be taking part and jumping in the saddle with their four-year-old brother Roger and their parents Tom and Gail.

Read also: Cancelled Ironman recreated in Oxfordshire after mental health battle

The family attend St Mary Magdalen Church in Magdalen Street, as well as St Frideswide’s Church on Botley Road and want to help raise money for their churches.

Mrs West said: “It just seems a fantastic opportunity to get out and enjoy the last of the good weather, especially as everyone has endured such a difficult time.

“Getting out when you can is important at the moment, as is helping churches at a time when they are struggling for funds.

“The pandemic has affected many businesses and organisations financially, and churches are not immune to this.

“There is a sense of permanence about churches and it is easy to assume that they will be here forever, but that isn’t always the case.”

Oxford Mail:

Taking part on behalf of the Children’s Church at St Mary Magdalen will be four-year-old Agnes Gardom and three-year-old Edmund Taylor.

Ride and Stride is a national event which raises more than £1m every year.

Oxfordshire makes a good contribution to this sum usually raising about £100,000.

Participants do not have to attend a church or place of worship to take part in the fundraising walk or ride.

Read also: Oxford filmmaker's Absent Thoughts takes on domestic abuse

All money raised by participants goes to the local organising historic churches trust to distribute. Some choose to donate half of their funds to a church of their choice.

It is organised locally by Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust.

Read also: Harwell could manufacture Covid vaccine in its new giant facility

Oxfordshire Ride and Stride organiser Hilary Cakebread-Hall, said: “It’s always been a fun event for all ages – and it’s great to see that we are still attracting people with 93 years between them.

“Even in a pandemic it remains a fantastic way of getting out as a family or with friends to see some of our great countryside and wonderful buildings.

“Churches and other places of worship are important to people of faith and people of no faith.

“They are often the most beautiful buildings in their communities, and they are the location for some of the most important events in our lives – baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“They are also, more and more, also a place where the wider community comes together, something that Ride and Stride helps them to do by providing grants for modern facilities.”

The grants help Oxford's churches stay open not just for Sunday services by funding heating and kitchens.

Keen fundraisers can sign up for Ride and Stride in Oxfordshire at the trust’s website via: ohct.org.uk/ride-and-stride/