Cycle challenge for kirk fundraisers

INNERLEITHEN cyclists are taking on the country the day after the Royal wedding.

For on Saturday, April 30, pedallers will take up positions between Land’s End and John O’Groats to complete the famous end-to-end route in 24 hours for their church – and the mastermind behind the plan, Paul Faris, believes they will be the first to do the 950 miles in a day.

The fundraiser explained: “I wanted to do a version of Land’s End to John O’Groats and thought that by dividing it into chunks nobody was having to do too much and those who don’t do a lot of cycling could take part.”

The retired insurance claims manager and his wife, the Reverend Janice Faris, minister at Innerleithen Parish Church, will likely be cycling the Land’s End section, with Mr Faris planning a 70-mile day, while Mrs Faris said: “I haven’t been on my bike for a wee while – I’ll do about 30 miles.”

So far around 20 cyclists have signed up to bike between 30 and 50 miles of the sections, and spaces remain for parts south of Birmingham and in the north of Scotland. Mr Faris hopes to raise up to £5,000 from the monster one-day bike ride.

The money is going towards refurbishing Innerleithen Church. Work, costing around £400,000, started on the roof and stonework in January and is expected to be finished in time for St Ronan’s Games in July.

The second phase will be fitting the building out with rooms, new heating, kitchen, toilets and improving disabled access

Mr Faris said: “We need to raise a total of £750,000 to make Innerleithen Church a first-rate venue for both the congregation and the community to use seven days a week instead of two hours on Sunday mornings.

“We have secured £250,000 from Historic Scotland and Heritage lottery, and some smaller grants from, for example, the Scottish Churches Architectural Trust and Ferguson Bequest – and a Pledge Sunday last year raised £30,000.

“Once the work is complete the existing church building will be used not only for Sunday worship but for concerts, conferences, drama performances and many other community activities. We will be installing modern kitchen and toilet facilities as well as a suite of meeting rooms and full sound and video facilities.

“We would like to raise between £2,500 and £5,000 from the cycle.”

The 20 cycling fundraisers range from teenagers to septuagenarians, some of whom cycle regularly and others who haven’t been on a bike “since the year dot”, said Mr Faris.

“We’re trying to see if we can do it within the town,” said the local Rotary Club president, but added he would seek keen Rotarians across the country to fill any gaps which remain nearer to the day.

Mr Faris continued: “The highlight will be doing something which, as far as we can tell, no-one has ever done before. It is particularly good for the town of Innerleithen as it lies on many of the Land’s End to John O’Groats cyclists’ routes.”

Anyone interested in cycling should contact Mr Faris on 01896 830309 or at psafaris54@gmail.com