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Clerics endure ups and downs for good cause

26 September 2014

by Pat Ashworth


TWENTY intrepid clerics, including the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, descended on the theme park Blackpool Pleasure Beach on Wednesday to ride the biggest rollercoaster in the UK, "the Big One", to raise money for the Children's Society. They did it in the company of an ex-Bond girl, Shannon Ledbetter, and Linda Nolan, of the Nolan Sisters.

The mile-long Big One is said to be the "fastest and scariest" of UK rollercoaster rides. It climbs to a height of 235 feet before plunging to the first drop, at an incline of 65 degrees and speeds of up to 87mph. The Assistant Curate at St Peter's, Addingham, the Revd David Austin, was one of the "Revs on a rollercoaster" who could not resist the challenge, despite being known for keeping his feet on the ground.

"For many, a day on a theme park is a distant dream," he said. "By supporting the work of the Children's Society, we don't just help them survive, we help them flourish."

Each rider has pledged to raise £500. Mo Baldwin, of the Society, told the volunteers: "The more scared you are, the better. Parishioners and sponsors like to know you won't be enjoying it."

Minutes after the ride, the Vicar of Beverley Minster, Canon Jeremy Fletcher, said that he had had a "fabulous" time. He had gone round twice, sitting in the front seat for the second ride - and, yes, it was instinctive to scream at the descent, and to duck under the bridges of a ride that was "really quite scary".

The riders arrived fully robed for the photographs, but the robes, as loose items, had to be left on the ground. "The Mayor of Blackpool told me that people occasionally lose their false teeth," he said. "I'm able to report teeth intact, and hair intact."

Would he get a sermon out of all this? "More than one," he said. "I tweeted that it had more ups and downs than a PCC meeting."

Canon Fletcher has raised £700, and the total raised so far is in excess of £8000, plus some "seriously good publicity for the Children's Society".


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