Young and old were out and about in the early autumn sunshine as they took part in a major event that raises money for Oxfordshire’s churches.

Ride and Stride is an annual fundraiser that sees members of the public sponsored to travel from one place of worship to another.

Most participants choose to walk or cycle on Saturday but all forms of transport are allowed.

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Ride and Stride usually involves churches opening their doors on the day, with many congregations providing participants with refreshments and a kind word.

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Cyclists in Charlbury

Covid-19 restrictions meant this was not possible this year, but it did not stop people from getting involved, with some churches reporting increased visitor numbers.

The oldest person taking part was 94-year-old Constance Bush from Stanford in the Vale, while two of the youngest were one-year-old twins Jonathan and Felicity West.

The siblings, who live in West Oxford, were taking part with their brother Roger and their parents Tom and Gail.

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The West family

All attend St Mary Magdalen Church in Magdalen Street, as well as St Frideswide’s Church on Botley Road.

Mrs West said: It was a really beautiful day for cycling around Oxford and finding interesting routes from church to church.

“Our family clocked up visits to 20 churches in five denominations before our youngest children decided they had had enough!

“We were very grateful that so many churches found ways to welcome visitors, displaying Ride and Stride signs even if they weren’t able to open their doors.”

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In Charlbury, the annual children’s rally sees youngsters cycle from church to church in an event that raises money for Ride and Stride and the local primary school.

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Constance Bush

The rally usually sees big groups of children cycling together, but this year’s event was a socially-distanced affair, with 61 children taking part.

Nationally, Ride and Stride raises more than £1million every year, with Oxfordshire usually contributing around £100,000 to this.

You do not have to attend a church or place of worship to take part.

All of the money raised by a participant can be donated to the local organising body to distribute – or half of it can be donated to a church of the participant’s choice.

The majority of the money raised goes to projects in Anglican churches but Ride and Stride raises money for places of worship of all denominations.

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The event is organised locally by Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust.

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Oxfordshire Ride and Stride organiser Hilary Cakebread-Hall said that the pandemic meant that participation in 2020’s fundraiser was lower overall but some churches had reported increased numbers of visitors. She said: “What was encouraging is that so many wonderful people still wanted to take part this year.”

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