Bishops cycle 172 miles for impoverished communities
The grim weather failed to dampen the spirits of two enthusiastic bishops who cycled 172 miles in support of Christian Aid.
Their fluorescent yellow hi-vis jackets were about the brightest things to be seen for miles around as Bishop Ed Condry, 59, and Bishop Lee Rayfield, 57, made the mammoth journey across Wiltshire at the weekend.
The two bishops made 16 stops to raise awareness about Christian Aid's work in impoverished communities around the world.
The duo called in at Mothers Union meetings, a Co-op branch, church lunches, and Amesbury Church of England school.
Among those who turned out to give them support en route was Salisbury and South Wilts MP John Glen.
The Right Reverend Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon and a member of Swindon Road Club, led prayers for those living in poverty at each stop.
He said: "We have been fed with wonderful food on our journey but it's vital that we remember that one in eight people go to bed hungry each night and do what we can to ensure the world is a fairer place.
"It's been amazing to see such large numbers of Christian Aid supporters across such a range of different contexts and all of them are passionate, committed people with a sense of humour as well as a sense of justice."
The Right Reverend Ed Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury, is no stranger to riding bikes for Christian Aid. Twenty-five years ago he and his wife Sarah cycled 200 miles on a tandem to raise money for the charity and the teamwork continues with him distributing the iconic Christian Aid Week envelopes each year and Sarah collecting them.
He said: "The ride went brilliantly. We had a fantastic welcome wherever we went, including a real rock star welcome at Amesbury Primary School where 200 or so children greeted us with flags.
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"It was a real privilege to meet the Christian Aid supporters who work so hard and to see so much of this beautiful county at the same time.
"The final 40 miles were tough going when the wind and the rain were against us but it was soon forgotten once we arrived at the finish line. I don't think it will be too long before I'm starting to think about what my next challenge for Christian Aid might be."
The bishops were joined by other cyclists including Bradford-on-Avon mayor John Potter for the final stretch back to Trowbridge at 6.30pm on Saturday.
Supporter Judith Holland, who cycled the last leg with them, raised £400. Over £1,200 has been raised in total so far.
Christian Aid's regional coordinator for Wiltshire, Katrine Musgrave said: "It was humbling to see how much effort Ed and Lee put into the ride – it can't be underestimated just how much of a challenge it was.
"We are much indebted to them, not only for the funds they have raised, but also for raising the profile of Christian Aid and the work it does to help the world's poorest communities and tackle the causes of poverty.
"We hope the ride will inspire people to take part in Christian Aid Week (May12 to 18) and to call for fairer terms for the world's poor ahead of the G8 meeting in the UK in June. This year we have a real opportunity to start the process towards being the generation that ended hunger."
The bishops can still be sponsored online via www.justgiving.com/bishopsonbicycles.