Gruelling trek boosts church face-lift fund

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A group of hardy churchgoers and schoolchildren have endured a 26-mile three peak challenge to raise money for the transformation of their local church.

A gathering of 35 people from Sharow’s St John’s Church and Sharow Church of England Primary School – including three generations of the same family – hiked across the Yorkshire Peak District to boost funds for the church’s redevelopment initiative, the VISION project.

The team prepare for their trek, with rescue dog Alfie.

The team prepare for their trek, with rescue dog Alfie.

Peter Cheung, who completed the challenge in seven hours and 55 minutes, said the event was an emotional journey for him, as just a year before he was bed-bound in hospital and has since been fitted with a heart pace-maker.

“I was due to do the challenge last year and had been training for it, but on the day I was in hospital,” Mr Cheung, a former chief operating officer at hair styling product company GHD, told the Gazette.

Mr Cheung said he felt humbled while running beside Graham Gilbert, 66 – the eldest member of the three-peak team – who “set the pace” for the race and was joined by his son Christopher and grandson Ionas, who is only seven-years-old. “The most inspiring part of the day for me was Graham,” he said.

And it was the support of St John’s Church’s vicar, Rev Peter Clement, that helped spur Mr Cheung on while hiking across the gruelling route.

Talking to the Gazette, Rev Clement said the VISION project is a crucial step towards the maintenance of the church – and fundraising events such as the three peak challenge, which will donate 90 per cent of its sponsor money towards the church’s redevelopment, are vital to boosting funds.

“It was a question of whether to patch the church up or think, ‘right, we are going to do something more radical than that’. We wanted to think about how we can use the church in the longer termn and the bigger picture”, Rev Clement, who has been vicar at the church for six years, said. As part of the first stage of the VISION project – which involves the installation of under-floor heating, new lighting and sound systems, and the removal of the pews – the church will need to raise a total of £215,000.

Rev Linda Boon, curate of St John’s Church, said the money will go towards creating “a warm, welcoming, open and flexible space that can be used for the benefit of the whole community – not just the congregation.”

“It is a really fantastic building with wonderful acoustics. It could be a fantastic community venue,” Rev Boon told the Gazette.

lTo donate money towards the VISION project, text the Vodafone Just Giving line on 70070 and key in the six digit code ‘v i s n 0 3’ and the amount you would like to donate.