40 years ago today, 12 April 1975, some 25 pilgrims led by Bill Haynes and Bob Garrard had just finished their penultimate day of the Holy Year Pilgrimage around Arundel and Brighton Diocese. Today, over 40 pilgrims have just returned home from Farnham (from where that pilgrimage was masterminded) having gathered to celebrate 40 years of our walking pilgrimages.
Together with many current pilgrims (of varying vintages) we welcomed Gil Haynes (Bill’s widow) and Bob Garrard, representing the start of the pilgrimages, several couples who met on pilgrimage, and some “next generation” young pilgrims.
Current coordinator Ceri had taken on the organisation, and the relaxed and peaceful gathering reflected her calm approach to running things (though I’m sure there was lots of unseen activity backing this up). Alison excelled in the kitchen, assisted by Clare (who also provided a stunning cake featuring many of the pilgrim crosses) and Gil (who provided welcome liquid refreshments).
We relived pilgrimages past and present through a slideshow from the archives (as presenter it was quite amusing to hear viewers trying to name pilgrims of old, especially those who’d started on the wine!)
The reunion walk, led by Aidan and Bridget, was blessed by fine weather (after a dodgy start) and lovely countryside, a micro brewery, a super-efficient (if pricey) lunch pub and 2 prayer stops. (It also passed the former homes of at least 10 pilgrims past and present, not marked by blue plaques). Back at St Joan’s, Farnham, we celebrated our history in prayers and music, including a procession of pilgrimage crosses and a roll call of deceased pilgrims. This was followed by the slideshow, supper and a traditional sing-song.
You can see the reunion diary with pictures (more pictures will be added as I receive them).