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2019 - a very good year for fund-raising and grant-making

Over £84,000 raised for Dorset’s historic churches in the annual Ride + Stride

Over £106,000 promised in grants for restoration projects

Dorset Historic Churches Trust has been very pleased to make grants of over £106,000 for church restoration projects all over the County in the last year.

Churches, which make up 45% of all the Grade 1 listed buildings in England, are important community hubs especially in rural areas but are often costly to maintain. The Trust, as a major conservation charity devoted exclusively to the county, plays an important role in helping these beautiful and historic buildings to continue serving their towns and villages.

The majority of the Trust’s funding comes from the annual sponsored Ride + Stride which takes place on the second Saturday every September. In 2019, a remarkable £84,523 was raised, thanks to tremendous effort by hundreds of people all over the area. A rare dry and sunny day encouraged a great turn out, supported by many generous sponsors.

To celebrate the success of the Ride + Stride, a trophy given in memory of the Trust’s founder, Sir Owen Morshead, is awarded every year to the church which has made an outstanding contribution to the fundraising. While the formal handing over of the trophy by Lord Shaftesbury, which had been planned for 11th May, has been cancelled due to the restrictions required by the Covid-19 virus, the Trust is pleased to announce that the winner is St Mary’s, Sturminster Marshall. Their team is pictured below.

Our Chairman, John Stokoe, is delighted that, in its 60th year, the Trust continues to make a vital and important contribution to Dorset’s historic churches which help to make our County attractive to so many people.

DHCT’s principal source of funds is the annual sponsored Ride+ Stride (R+S) for Churches around Dorset’s over 300 churches and chapels of Dorset. In 2019, nearly 175 parishes took part raising £84,523. Subject to the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions, R+S 2020 will take place on Saturday 12 September.


Tom Wickson, Trustee, 01747 833663


Repairs supported recently include at St Andrew’s Church in Preston, Weymouth, and St Peter’s Church, Shaftesbury, both of which were granted £5,000 towards the cost of projects to repair stonework. Similar plans at St Mary’s Sturminster Marshall and at St Candida and the Holy Cross, Whitchurch Canonicorum, were granted £7,000 and £10,000 respectively. This incessantly wet winter has heightened the need for maintenance to ancient roofs and walls.

New Chairman for Dorset Historic Churches Trust

28th January 2019

The Dorset Historic Churches Trust (DHCT) is delighted to announce the appointment of John Stokoe CB CBE as its new chairman.

Since leaving the Army as a Major General in 1999, John has gained considerable commercial experience in the Private Sector, principally in the Construction, Science and Technology fields. He is an experienced non-executive director of NHS Foundation Trusts and is an ambassador for the Defence Medical Welfare Service. He was a churchwarden in Ashmore, Dorset and he and his wife now live in Sherborne.

John said: “I am really looking forward to working with DHCT as it builds on its strong reputation. Our historic church buildings face many challenges and the Trust’s goal is to preserve their heritage and sustain them into the future. We are determined that, wherever possible, our churches will be in good repair and able to serve the communities in a range of ways.

DHCT is a major conservation charity in the county; its main fund-raiser is the annual Ride+Stride event in September, when supporters from nearly 200 churches and chapels of all denominations are sponsored to visit churches across the county on foot, on a bike or on a horse. This year the event raised over £85,000, enabling the Trust to budget over £110,000 for grants in the forthcoming year.

John Stokoe replaces out-going Chairman Simon Pomeroy who, after a long association with the Trust, has served as its Chairman for the last eight years. “I have very much enjoyed every moment of my involvement with DHCT.” Mr Pomeroy commented, adding; “I salute the grit and determination of our riders and striders, the enormous generosity of their sponsors and the affection in which Dorset’s churches are held.”

John and Simon were both present at the Church of St Mary and St Bartholomew, Cranborne on Sunday 20th January, for the dedication by the Venerable Antony MacRow-Wood, Archdeacon of Dorset, of a beautiful new kitchenette and toilet, which were part-funded by a DHCT grant.

Dr Richard Brown, Churchwarden Emeritus, who managed the project, thanked the Trust for its much-appreciated support and emphasised how important it is for churches to keep up with the needs of congregations in the 21st century. The new facilities follow a major upgrade to the lighting in the church, which was also grant-aided by the Trust a couple of years ago. “This work marks the completion of a long-held dream for Cranborne church,” said Dr Brown. “We look to the future with great optimism.”

Photo: In Cranborne church left to right John Stokoe (DHCT Chairman), Elizabeth Wallis (Erskine Muton Trust), the Ven Antony MacRow-Wood (Archdeacon of Dorset), Simon Pomeroy (lately Chairman of DHCT) and Dr Richard Brown (former Churchwarden).


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