Best foot forward for church restoration

COMMUNITY minded wal-kers from Ottery St Mary and Feniton have stepped out in support of Feniton Church.

A 4.5 mile sponsored walk took place on Sunday to raise funds for the restoration of the church, damaged in the storms of October 2008.

Participants took an hour and three-quarters to walk from Ottery Parish Church to Feniton, mainly along footpaths. There they had a short tour of the church, followed by an afternoon tea provided by congregation members who had decided not to walk.

The event attracted around 40 walkers ranging in age from nine to 70. Feniton churchwarden David Lamming said it had been a very sociable occasion. “It was nice that the Ottery and Feniton communities could mix on this walk, and nice that they had been thinking about supporting the church fundraising bid. It was a very successful day.

“Some people joined us along the route, others came to the tea who were supporting the walkers and arrived by car.”

Everyone was having such a good time, he said, that people stayed on chatting and mingling for a while after the refreshments had been served.

Although primarily a fundraiser, the walk also had important community value, said Mr Lamming. “It was about togetherness as much as money,” he said.

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Sponsorship is still being collected, so as yet it is not known how much has been raised.

Cate Edmonds, team vicar of the Otter Vale team, was equally as enthusiastic about the event. “It went really well, we were very pleased,” she said. “It was very hot, but that didn’t make a difference. There was a nice smattering of children, and a little lad from Ottery, called James finished the walk first. I was at the front with him most of the way.”

The idea captured people’s imaginations so much that some, who couldn’t make it on the day, were planning to do it in the future.

Mrs Edmonds said such events were vital to the restoration project, not only for raising funds but for keeping the congregation’s spirits up. “For a few months, people can cope, but it will be two years in October since the storm and people are wondering what’s going on.”

At the moment, services take place at Escot and Payhembury, and there’s a monthly gathering at Feniton Primary. “It’s a church school, so it’s really the other church building in the village,” said Mrs Edmonds. “People are nevertheless keen for work to begin so they can have their church back.”