Ride or stride to save your historic church

DARING St Mark's Church, North End
DARING St Mark's Church, North End
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The Rev Bryan Hackett, the team rector of the North End Team Ministry, is new to Portsmouth and is looking forward to two events on Saturday

I’M A newcomer to Portsmouth, having moved here in February, and I’ve enjoyedgetting to know the people, churches and communities in the past seven months.

The three churches which comprise the North End Team Ministry, where I work and worship, have distinct characteristics.

St Francis Church, in the old Hilsea garrison area, contains a medieval holy water stoup from the old Gatcombe Priory.

St Nicholas, Copnor, was the first church built in Portsmouth diocese after its creation in 1927 and was once surrounded by farmland thick with bluebells in spring.

The St Mark’s building in North End is a radical and thought-provoking design, more daring than would be built today, no doubt.

One new experience for me this Saturday (September 10) is the Ride and Stride initiative, which takes place each September.

People are sponsored to cycle, walk, run, ride or drive around as many churches as they can, raising money for their region’s historic churches of all denominations.

Here it is organised by Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust (hihct.org.uk) and last year more than £50,000 was raised for this region.

We’ll be welcoming people to our three churches throughout the day.

I’ve also persuaded those three churches I serve to take part in another event this weekend.

Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 and is England’s biggest festival of history and culture, involving 40,000 volunteers and 1,500 organisations.

The idea is to throw open the doors of historic monuments and buildings each year, especially those normally closed to the public.

It is co-ordinated nowadays by the National Trust with funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The people who make it happen locally are groups and individuals with a passion for places, history and culture.

They make sure the buildings are open and visitors catered for, and the weekend attracts more than three million visitors nationwide.

Around the Portsmouth area some places are well-represented, like Gosport, which will have nearly 70 events going on.

The city of Portsmouth has rather fewer events listed this year – a mere 14.

However, I’m pleased to say our three churches at North End are open all day.

They will be offering a welcome, refreshments, and displays of local heritage.

You are warmly invited.