Some thought the Sussex Pilgrimage might be rather dull being so close to most of our homes. Dull it certainly was not, but being in the local area enabled many past pilgrims to come and join us for a day or for a night or two. In fact so many old pilgrimage friends joined in for some of the way last summer to make this item almost unnecessary. However lack of money and the need to take holiday jobs in the present economic climate seemed to reduce the number of "all the wayers”. We were a compact 60 in the first week, but for the second week a crowded 100. 45 pilgrims walked all the way. With day pilgrims over 250 took part. The countryside was beautiful and for the whole fortnight it never rained. There was a small but important response to the ecumenical invitation, and walking with Christians of several different churches and joining in their liturgy added a whole new dimension to the pilgrimage and was a most valuable experience. We hope that Christians from many different churches will again respond to our invitation this year, to make both our pilgrimages ecumenical events.

Memorable moments from the Sussex Pilgrimage :- Our first experience of ecumenical liturgy at St Peter’s, Brighton. All that flesh sizzling in the sun on Brighton beach. The White Rabbit of Beeding and later the Long Man of Wilmington. The beauty of the South Downs around Findon, The ferry crossings at Littlehampton and Itchenor. Walking barefoot across the sands into Bognor and St Leonards. Bishop Cormac' s company from Bognor to Selsey. Shivering on the beach and living it up at the fun fair at Selsey. Bosham Harbour and Chichester’s spire. The tea at Duncton, and later at West Grinstead, Worth, Ardingly, Wannock and Bexhill. The old railway to Fittleworth. West Grinstead and its memories of penal days. The Hammer Ponds of the Central Weald. The arrival of Mother Clare and her Convent at Crawley with midnight raids and three-legged races. Ditchling village, with its pond and its Beacon. Lewes - ­a place of rest. Michelham in the early morning mist, and bats. Swimming at Pevensey Bay. The spacious comfort, and the most beautiful shared Eucharist at Bexhill. The hills, cliffs and sea of Hastings Country Park. Open air Benediction at Winchelsea Beach. The tremendous welcome to Rye - both ecumenical and civic. And the final parting at the most aptly named Cross in Hand.


In November the sun shone brightly again for our reunion at St George’s, Hangleton, north of Hove. Anne de Normanville organised an excellent weekend. Frances Dean and her team did another splendid job in the catering department. Patrick Reeve planned a beautiful walk enhanced by all the colours of autumn. It was all there: slopes as steep as those on Dartmoor, mud as thick as that at Bewl Bridge, and the added attraction of walking the last few miles after dark. It was great to see pilgrims from all seven pilgrimages gathered together.


On 28th November at St Mary of the Angels, Worthing, Danny O'Callaghan was ordained priest. A good number of pilgrims were there to see one of “our family” become a priest. Father Danny has been appointed to St Joan of Arc, Farnham, where our pilgrimages began. We wish Danny every happiness, and assure him of our prayers in all that he is called to do. In 1980 when we first met Danny on the Buckfast Pilgrimage he was nicknamed Mister-Danny-nearly-Deacon-sir. We now salute him Father-Danny-really-Priest-sir!


Leslie and Helen’s daughter Lesley was born on Monday 12th October weighing 9lbs 6ozs. We congratulate them. Of the other children we hear that Andrew started school in January, Christina and Frances are at nursery school, and Helen has learned to walk. We congratulate Les and Helen too on taking their whole family to the U.S.A. last April.


Margaret Archer is this Easter organising her third pilgrimage for the Diocese of Portsmouth which is entitled the “Bishop Richard Challonor Pilgrimage”. It begins from Reading on Monday 12th April and takes a footpath route via Burghfield (Monday night), Douai (Tuesday night), Kintbury (Wednesday night), East Hendred (Thursday night) to Abingdon on Friday 16th April. Inclusive cost is £24 and you can get application forms from Miss M. Archer


Lots of our pilgrim family have begun higher education courses this year. Stephen Webb is at Oxford. Suzanne Grafen is nursing at Middlesex Hospital. Christopher Kates is studying Modern Languages at the University of East Anglia. Sarah Birch is at Portsmouth Polytechnic. Glenda Kelly is studying Theology at Kings College, University of London. Therese Shaw is studying Medicine at the Royal Free Hospital, University of London. Cecilia Mottram is at Cambridge Polytechnic.

Karen Slauter is now studying for her Batchelor of Education Degree at Digby Stuart College, London. Patrick Reeve is now following a teacher’s course in Mathematics at Brighton Polytechnic. Matthew Huntbach has completed his degree at Imperial College, London, and has begun to study for a Ph.D. in Computer Studies at the University of East Anglia.

Annette Kelly is now teaching Religious Education and Home Economics at Manor House Convent School in North London. Pauline Keavey is working as a Physicist at Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Jane Rex sat her final exams early at St Mary’s Hospital so she has to wait until November to he appointed a staff nurse. Carolyn Jee sits her nursing finals at St Bartholomew’s in January. Gabe Stewart, alias Blob, alias Gay Churchill, is now working for the John Lewis Partnership and is an assistant editor for their house magazine.


One very wet day last October I went back to Lyme Regis to try and sort out where we could stay there on the Second Buckfast Pilgrimage. The Woodmead Halls (you remember, opposite the Police Station) are due for demolition this year - the Halls not the Police Station. So I had to look for somewhere else where we could stay for our Rest Day next August. I went from place to place in the pouring rain and found nothing very suitable and even the unsuitable places were not willing to have us (I didn’t mention our police record). And so I left Lyme Regis, very wet and dejected with nothing sorted out. But all is well: the headmaster of The Woodroffe School has offered us his premises (up the hill, past the Catholic Church, well away from the Police Station) which include a gymnasium, showers, hot water, and a heated swimming pool. The other rest day on the Buckfast Centenary Pilgrimage will he in more spartan accommodation at Studland Village Hall, but with some fine sandy beaches nearby.


Lots of people have offered to lead days of our two pilgrimages this year, and days have been entrusted to Patrick Reeve, Mike Roberts, Brendan Cotter, Margaret Nicholls, Aidan Simons, George Evans, Susan Martin, Mike Simons, Pat Vaughan, Alan Keogh and Mike O’Shea, leaving only a couple of days for your newsletter editor. Thanks to them all, and to others who offered and whose services haven’t been used. But we need some more helpers in the catering and transport team. We welcome Tom and Jean Murray who will be leading the catering team on the Papal Pilgrimage, and look forward to Frances Dean’s cooking once more on the Buckfast Centenary Pilgrimage, helped by Pat and Sylvia Wood and Sarah Lane. Terri Roberts is already brewing a stock of Pangalactic Gargle Blaster. Any more cooks, drivers and nurses please lot me know.


Have I left out your bit of news? Very sorry But do send in any bits of information you nay have for the newsletter. You can expect, and might get, another edition in May, and yet another one in August. Contributions to Father Bill Haynes.