THE county's Lord Lieutenant Mrs Sarah Troughton launched the Ride+Stride for Churches event for Wiltshire at St Bartholemew's Church in Corsham last Saturday September 14.

She joined joined Reverend Andrew Johnson, team rector at St Bartholomew's, parents and children for the fundraising event to help protect historic churches.

Mrs Troughton said: "I was delighted to see off a large contingent of bike riders, horse riders, walkers and scooterers of all ages from St Bartholomew's Church in Corsham for the annual Ride+Stride event in aid of Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust.

"It was a beautiful morning, the bells were ringing and it was testament to Wiltshire's church lovers that so many were present there and around the county."

"Our many churches all need repairs of some sort on a regular basis. When the lead is ripped off the roof of an ancient building, or the pews need repair, or the water boiler gives up, the sponsorship money raised from Ride+Stride is a vital source of revenue for which we are all most grateful."

Ride+Stride for Churches is a sponsored event in which people walk or cycle between churches. Last year, it raised over £1.3 million. The money raised helps fund urgent repairs and the installation of modern facilities at historic churches, chapels and meeting houses.

National 'Ride+Stride for Churches' chairman Hilary Cakebread Hall: “Churches are so important spiritually and aesthetically, and they are the setting for some of the most important events in all of our lives – baptisms, weddings and funerals."

“They are also increasingly becoming a focus for the wider community, and ‘Ride + Stride for Churches’ helps them do this by keeping them in good repair and funding kitchens and heating that make them available to the public for events every day of the week, not just for Sunday services."

‘Ride+Stride for Churches’ started in Suffolk in 1981 as a sponsored bike ride but quickly became a national event.

It is organised locally by county church trusts with national support provided by the National Churches Trust.