It must have felt like the second ‘Relief of Derry’ for a group of weary parishioners from the Parish of Drumglass in Dungannon as they crossed Londonderry’s iconic Peace Bridge near the end of their 50-mile fundraising walk from their home church to the Maiden City.
The two-day walk was the brainchild of their Rector, Rev Bryan Martin who, on reaching his 50th birthday, challenged them to raise £5000 by trekking from St Elizabeth’s Church of Ireland, Moygashel, to St Columb’s Cathedral, in Londonderry.
Waiting to meet the intrepid group, as they arrived at the Peace Bridge, was their beaming former rector – now Bishop of Derry and Raphoe – Rt Rev Andrew Forster, who enjoyed renewing old acquaintances. Bishop Andrew completed the final stage of the journey with his former parishioners.
The ‘50@50 for £5,000’ initiative – 50 miles at fifty years of age for five thousand pounds – took them through Donaghmore and Pomeroy to the Sperrins on Friday’s 28.1 mile first leg, and from the Sperrins, through Claudy and Ardmore to the Walled City on Saturday’s 21.9 mile second leg.
“They thought we were clean mad,” the Rector said after they had reached their destination, “but we’ve done it.” Rev Martin said they had more than doubled their financial target. “There was incredible generosity shown to us along the route. The children in St Mary’s Primary School in Pomeroy gave us £50. A group of builders in Donaghmore gave us money. People in cars along the road handed us money.”
Rev Martin thanked all who contributed. He expressed his gratitude to Bishop Andrew for receiving them and walking part of the way with them. Most of all, though, he said he wanted to thank the walkers and their support team.
Bishop Andrew congratulated the whole team behind the ‘50@50 for £5,000’ initiative, which he said would benefit two deserving causes. The proceeds will be spent equally on the refurbishment of St Anne’s Hall in Dungannon and on boring a well in East Africa with Fields of Life.
Anyone who wishes to support the ‘50@50 for £5,000’ initiative can donate via the Just Giving page at – http://alturl.com/6v37z – or, alternatively, can send a cheque to Drumglass Parish, c/o The Rectory, 26 Circular Road, Dungannon.