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Peak District ‘Pommies’ to walk 10 million steps for charity

12 April 2024

Pilgrimage to connect their ancient church with England’s 42 cathedrals

All Saints’, Youlgrave

Walkers in All Saints’, Youlgrave

Walkers in All Saints’, Youlgrave

CONGREGATION members of All Saints’, Youlgrave, in the Derbyshire Peak District, have embarked on a fund-raising challenge to walk the ten million steps that connect their ancient church with England’s 42 cathedrals.

Individuals and groups have chosen to take on the pilgrimage in sections, which include the trans-Pennine trek from Manchester to Sheffield, and routes from Lincoln to Norwich, Carlisle to Newcastle, and Liverpool to Chester.

The chair of the so-named “Pommie Pilgrims” project, Canon Jane Clay, is to walk from Commercial Road, in the East End of London, where she was born, to St Paul’s, Southwark, and then on to Rochester and Canterbury.

Youlgravers carry the nickname “Pommies” after the “pom-pom” sound of the village’s Silver Band. A stone carving in the church, depicting a medieval pilgrim carrying a staff and purse, is deemed to be of a woman, and has been christened “Petra”. Her image has become the symbol of the journeyings, and each cathedral visited is to receive a memento of her.

The project is the idea of two walkers from the village, Kate Heath and Sandra Akerman, who came up with the fund-raising idea during a dinner party. All Saints’ is in need of amenities, such as a kitchen, lavatory facilities, and a modern heating system. The target is £42,000 towards the cost of modernisation. Donations are encouraged through Just Giving.

The Priest-in-Charge of the White Peak and Youlgrave benefice, the Revd Adele Barker, described the pilgrimage as “a huge challenge. We have a beautiful church building, and all that is raised will be used to ensure we can provide a warm welcome and hospitality in All Saints’ for many years to come.”

The Pommie Pilgrimage has already raised more than £14,000 since the first route was completed: from All Saints’ to Derby Cathedral. Sixty walkers set out on Palm Sunday, cheered on their way by 150 people in the church (and two donkeys) and accompanied by the band and the Women’s Institute choir.

They were greeted at the cathedral on Tuesday by the Dean, the Very Revd Peter Robinson, and the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Libby Lane.

“Most of the routes are now covered,” Canon Clay said. “One of our elderly members who can’t walk much distance is emulating Captain Tom, and walking one mile 46 times to do the Guildford to Oxford leg.

“And, in May, we’re going to mow the lovely field in the middle of the village into a labyrinth, so that the children can walk it, visit the village, and share in what we’re doing. It’s wonderful how the maths of it all has worked out.”

The project will conclude on All Saints’ Day, which falls on a Friday.

justgiving.com (search for “Pommie Pilgrimage”)

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