Coming of Age: The Bishop’s Walk is 21 years old – Bishop John shares some of his reflections
On 21 September a group of invited walkers led by Bishop John and Bishop Ralph will be sponsored to take to the Peak District to help raise vital funds for St Wilfrid’s Centre. This year, in keeping with the walk’s age, the group will undertake to walk 21km.
The Bishop’s walk started as an idea back in 1999 when the then Centre’s Director, Sister Kathleen Page, muted the idea with Bishop John to see if he would consider taking part in a sponsored walk to raise funds for the Centre. The Bishop agreed immediately and the first walk took place in 1999 covering 10 miles. Over the years the number of participants has increased with walkers being drawn from all sectors and has included clients, volunteers and staff from the Centre, priests and sisters from the Diocese, as well as headteachers and staff from supportive schools and people from the local business community. Bishop Ralph has kindly continued to support the tradition and the last few years the walk has benefitted from not just one but two Bishops!
The walkers have enjoyed memorable walks over the years taking in various different routes around the Peak District, in all weathers and, with thanks to all the amazing support from everyone in our community, in total the walk has raised over £200,000 for the Centre. This has been a life-line of much needed financial support. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.
We had the opportunity to ask Bishop John to share with us a few of his reflections about what has become an annual fixed event in the Catholic calendar in Sheffield.
Q: What have you liked about the Annual Bishop’s Walk?
I have enjoyed walking since I was a youngster, and still find great enjoyment in my walks, but I can truly say that the St Wilfrid’s Centre Walks have been among the best and most enjoyable one day walks of all.
The company has always been great fun, the walks well organised, and the routes consistently beautiful. What more could you ask for! A pint in a good pub at the end of the day. And there was always that as well.
Q: And any special memories?
Well the first walk was supposed to be ten miles. It was the shortest ten miles I have ever walked, and we were being sponsored. So, actually quite willingly, we walked another couple of miles. And after that we decided on fifteen as the standard. By the way, 21 km is significantly less than fifteen miles!
Among the very early walks, there was one which had quite a steep hill not too far into the walk. Those were the days of comparative youth and the leading group sailed up it and we were heading off when we were hauled back by Sister Kathleen, the Director, who was furious with the group, and its leader in particular, for going at such a pace. She read the riot act! I suspect that that was the beginning of the tradition of us never being given details of the walk, so that we had to stop every so often to get directions for the next section. It certainly slowed us down ….
Q: What do you think about the walk being 21 years old?
Where does the time go to?
With our sincere thanks to Bishop John, Bishop Ralph and everyone who has contributed and supported the walk over the last 21 years in so many different ways.
If you would like to sponsor the walking group on its 21st Birthday please use the sponsor forms in your church or online via: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/bishopswalk