Vicar to cycle 200 miles for flooding victims

(Photo: Keith Blundy)
The Reverend Damon Bage and Stewart Burton get in some practice at St Mary's Church Cockerton Darlington

A Darlington vicar will be cycling 200 miles next week to raise money for victims of the flooding across the UK this winter.

Weeks of heavy rain left vast areas across Somerset and Oxfordshire under water, washing away railway lines and cutting off villages.

The distressing scenes have inspired the Reverend Damon Bage, vicar of St Mary's Church in Cockerton, to cycle the Coast and Castles route from Newcastle to Edinburgh over four days starting on 8 May.

He will be joined by Stewart Burton, a Reader from St Hilda's Church, Hartlepool, Paul Thomas, who knew Damon when he worked at St Michael's in Norton, Teesside, and Martin Read, a friend who lives in London, where he works for the BBC, and who comes from Hartlepool. Back-up will be provided by their friend Terry Hegarty.

It's not Rev Bage's first time doing a major fundraising cycle, having successfully completed the Coast to Coast ride in 2012, raising £4,500 for Butterwick Children's Hospice on Teesside.

"This time, we discussed all sorts of charities then we heard about the appeal to raise money to help those who have been affected by the terrible flooding in the UK. Church Urban Fund has set up flood appeal and any funds raised will go directly to that," he said.

"Many people and communities are suffering and many churches are working tirelessly to provide practical help and resources to those whose lives have been devastated.

"The money we raise will go to help churches as they support communities recover from the impact of the floods.

"It's a 200-mile ride but we have been training for it and hope to complete it within four days."

Mr Burton said: "We've raised money for our own charities in the past but thought it would be good if we all raised a substantial amount of money for the same cause this this time. While the flood water may be gone, it takes a long time to rebuild lives and homes."

The Church Urban Fund Flood Appeal is providing funds to local churches and Christians as they support those affected by the floods. This includes providing emergency food supplies, financial support and temporary accommodation.

Church Urban Fund Chairman, Paul Hackwood said: "We are delighted to hear Damon and his team have chosen to support our flood appeal.

"This year we are continuing to fund local projects across the country by allocating £1 million in small grants for Christians and churches who are acting to tackle poverty."

To sponsor the cyclists go to their JustGiving page at http://www.justgiving.com/coastandcastles14

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