Category Archives: Uncategorised

Joan Gale RIP

Pilgrims will be very saddened to learn of the death of Joan Gale. On the 27th of December, Maurice Hickman informed us as follows: “Some very sad news was related to me by a former pilgrim who lives in my parish, Anne O’Donnell.  She told me that Joan died this morning in East Surrey Hospital.  Apparently unbeknown to me she had been unwell for some time.”

There is a funeral notice here.

Joan first came on our pilgrimages in the early 1990s as one of the burgeoning Redhill contingent. She remained a regular into the 2010s and introduced several of her friends to the pilgrimage. She was one of those pilgrims who was the life and soul of the party. In recent years she was no longer walking with us but continued to come and meet the pilgrims, most recently on the final Sunday morning of the Bristol to Arundel pilgrimage 2023, when she joined us for coffee after mass, and she seemed in fine fettle then.

Here are some photos to remind us of the good times Joan shared with us:


Call for Route Planners for 2024 Pilgrimage

Our accommodation team have done sterling work and halls are booked for all of our 2024 pilgrimage from Worcester to Peterborough via Coventry. So it’s time to start planning the walking routes between those halls, for which we need volunteers!

If you would like to plan a day’s walk on the pilgrimage, please let me know as soon as possible. I have a few names already, but don’t assume you are on my list!

The list of days is shown below. The shaded days are already allocated. You can express a preference for day or area, but it’s not guaranteed.

Most days are similar in length (12-15 miles) but the days either side of Market Harborough are likely to be shorter.

If you’ve not planned a pilgrimage day before, you may like to team up with an experienced planner first time around.

If you’re a regular route planner but ant a year off, let me know so I wont hassle you further!

Any questions, do get in touch.





Sun 11th



Mon 12th



Tues 13th



Weds 14th or Thurs 15th



Fri 16th



Sat 17th


Husbands Bosworth

Sun 18th

Husbands Bosworth

Market Harborough

Tues 20th

Market Harborough


Weds 21st



Thurs 22nd



Fri 23rd



Eastbourne Reunion: Invitation and Booking Form

The invitation / booking form for the reunion is now ready. This is our first 2-night Autumn reunion since 2019. The walk includes Beachy Head and the lunch venue is an old pilgrimage favourite, the Tiger Inn at East Dean. Since the reunion is only 3 weeks away, please respond to the invitation as soon as possible if you are coming. The form is to be filled in by hand and posted, but please email also to say the form is in the post. Also please email if you are planning on going on the walk only. We hope to share the fun and fellowship of the reunion with past, present and future pilgrims.

Pilgrimage Reunion 20th-22nd October – Eastbourne – Hold the Dates

John (not me!), Gary and Maurice are kindly organising a pilgrimage “reunion”, based in John’s home parish of Christ the King, Eastbourne. This will be the traditional pilgrimage reunion format of 2 nights in a hall, with a walk and evening meal on the Saturday. All are welcome, especially those who have not been on one of our pilgrimages before!

Hold the dates for now and the details and booking form will be available as soon as possible.

Extraordinary Meeting of Pilgrims, held 5pm, Wednesday, 16th August 2023

Pilgrims gathered informally at St James’ Church, Devizes (Rest Day on the Bristol to Arundel Pilgrimage). Attended by 25 of the 33 pilgrims registered at Devizes, including members of the committee.

Purpose: To discuss volunteers required for 2024 and future pilgrimages.

Fr. Anthony opened the meeting with a short prayer.

Introduction (by John Chenery (chief route planner) & David Fletcher (coordinator). The 25 June committee meeting raised concern that more support was needed for future pilgrimages. The pilgrimage was led by volunteers who had held posts for a very long time, and new volunteers were required to fill vacant posts. In the meeting there were 6 who had previously been Coordinator for the usual 4 year term (1 year as deputy, 2 yrs as coordinator, plus 1 year as deputy again). The deputy post has been vacant this year and there is no planned continuation for 2023-24, nor in our 50th Anniversary year 2025. John is at this September AGM proposing to stand as Coordinator for 2023-24 – it’s the first time in a 48 year history that a Coordinator has stood a second time. Aidan Simons is similarly considering 2024-25 in our Anniversary year.

Those gathered continued the discussion, which is summarised in the main comments below:

What’s the problem?

We have a shrinking organisation team in a climate of growing public interest in pilgrimage. (We need to grow our small active team to replace those retiring and accommodate a growth in numbers of walking pilgrims. Our special time on pilgrimage is made possible by our pilgrim community working together as volunteers. Providing an enjoyable time together on a spiritual journey, where the journey is just as important as the destination. To continue this journey together we now need more volunteers).

Is 4 years too long a post for coordinator? (It is not ideal for everyone, and we need to look at how we can achieve continuity in different situations).

How do we get the message out about our pilgrimage?

Is the best way to get growth by personal invitation. (We all need to bring pilgrimage into our everyday conversation).

Why do we not do more traditional mailings by post? (Cost is a factor).

Why do we not print posters for parishes? (Cost is a factor).

Why are the 2022/23 posters expensive to print? (We will provide a printer friendly version next time).

Do posters work? (They are intended to signpost people to the website to get more information and book their time on pilgrimage. There is little evidence of posters found posted in halls we have visited. Getting a short note in the local newsletter can be more beneficial).

Do we tap into the Dioceses we will pass through? (The Diocese of Arundel & Brighton is in the ‘DNA’ of our ecumenical walking pilgrimage, but we need to target and reach out to others too, where we have been and plan to go).

Do we follow up and thank churches after our visit? (Yes we do).

Could we send out a 150 word text to parishes visited to invite them to join us and check our website for details? (A good suggestion, and for churches and chapels along the route and in the regions we intend to go next year, Also, churches can be asked by pilgrims to give a personal notice/invitation from the lectern at the end of church Mass/service).

Can we organise and coordinate outgoing messages? (Yes and we would like somebody to fill the vacant post of Communication & PR office at the AGM).

Should we change our format?

Should we plan for growth by using more popular routes? (We do consider all routes, popular, lost routes and new ones. Join us online at the AGM on 24 September to see where in England and Wales we might be walking in 2024).

Is 17 miles a day walking too long for many? (It can be for some, and we strive to aim for 15 miles or less. In reality the location of appropriate accommodation can dictate the length of the day’s walk. In most circumstances there is public transport if you wish to walk a half-day or miss out a day altogether).

Would we consider a shorter annual pilgrimage of say 7-10 days? (Yes, we will. But that’s also available now, simply book for a day or stay any time with us from 1-15 nights).

One week away walking is more easy to book early in the calendar than two weeks, with family and other commitments. (You can book one week now, but we also get the idea that a shorter pilgrimage might be attractive to more pilgrims).

Why do we choose August for our two-week walking pilgrimage? (We often are able to take advantage of schools offering hall accommodation in the summer. We avoid the busy time of Easter).

Why do we not do one day walks? (Our Southampton to Rye pilgrimage 2021 was a successful series of day walks without overnight accommodation, and we have also had mini-pilgrimage walks with overnight accommodation for those wishing to reunite for a shorter time. These mini-pilgrimages are usually organised by volunteers, and we hope to announce one for later this year, but would you be willing to organise one another time?).

Will a shorter trip be more expensive? (Our wholly not-for-profit pilgrimage is based on the expectation of adequate numbers joining the pilgrimage for the full duration to offset the cost of planning, hiring halls, preparing meals; and also vans hired for cooking equipment, supplies, and forward luggage facility. Pilgrims booking longer stays helps meeting costs, and we have a range of booking options for shorter stays. We also have a grant available for young persons joining us).

Should we encourage sleeping in their own tents? (No, but we have organised large tents recently for our community where built accommodation cannot be found in rural areas).

Can we research hostels and B&Bs for those wanting R&R from walking? (The idea needs a team member to research, can you help in one of our accommodation teams planning for next year?).

Are we encouraging new and younger walkers?

Should we encourage new young pilgrims to come and join us for a short stay. (We do and recognise not all young people attend church. We have contacted universities as well as churches).

In the early years the pilgrimage was popular with younger walkers because it was a fun holiday in a safe environment, for those happy to sleep on the floor but not always engaging in the spiritual journey. (Sleeping on the floor is not so popular in all ages, ‘indoor camping’ has improved the experience, but there are B&B options in places we pass through if that suits you. We are an ecumenical Christian community of the Roman Catholic Church with other Christian denominations, and we welcome non-church walkers not yet ready to begin their journey of faith).

Younger people are not so keen to walk on a pilgrimage, but where are the 25-40 year olds? (We have a few young people with us who might encourage their friends, and to accommodate groups we will need a larger supervision team. Do you have the necessary safeguarding skills? We think post university and ‘empty nesters’ might be encouraged more, but can you also help us get the invitation messages out?).

Do we need community youth-worker connections to grow the pilgrimage? (We contacted all university chaplains in England and Wales this year, with posters linking to our website. We need to do more and send 150 word texts to make passing the message on easier).

Can Instagram be a way of connecting new and younger people? We think so, but can you also share these messages with your friends on your preferred social network app?

Are we linking up with other walking groups?

Could we publish in ‘Ramblers’ to link up with those wanting to walk with us for charity causes? (We can look into this suggestion).

Could we also consider linking with the ‘Christian Walking Club’, ‘Walk for Christian Aid’ and other fundraising ventures? (We can look into this suggestion).

What help is needed?

How can I get involved with the 2024 pilgrimage? (Come and join us at the AGM on 24 September or contact us through Contact the Pilgrims! | Pilgrims Live!

Is help required for finding accommodation and Booking of halls? (Yes, part of the team is stepping down and we need your support).

Why do we need cooking equipment? (For preparing pilgrims breakfast, packed lunch and evening cooked meal. Our equipment is taken to pilgrimage each year, and we need a second van for transport. A volunteer oversees the storage of equipment, and over the years we have amassed a large quantity of equipment which needs review. Is this something you can help with?).

How do I join the team? (Contact the Pilgrims! | Pilgrims Live! and let us know you are interested. We can then talk it through with you and find out what suits you, what is needed and provide you with support, shadowing, etc. You can see all the roles in our AGM Agenda on Latest News | Pilgrims Live!).

And finally,

As a recent newcomer, why did I not learn about our pilgrimage earlier? (Hmm…?)

Our special pilgrimage needs to continue. (Amen).

The discussion closed about 6.30pm with thanks to all contributors, and in short prayer.



Sunday 24 September 2023 at 14.00 BST

Join Zoom Meeting – If you have not already received a Zoom invite by email or minutes, send an email here to the coordinator – no later than 23 September please:

1. Apologies
2. Minute Taker volunteer for the AGM
3. Acceptance of Minutes of the 25th September 2022 AGM (sent 14 January 2022)
4. Coordinator’s address for the 2023 Pilgrimage
5. Pilgrims’ review of The Bristol to Arundel Pilgrimage 2023 (How did we do, +/-?).
– Routes & Timings
– Induction Service & Arrival/Celebration Day and Prayer Stops
– Service for Deceased Pilgrims
– Anything else
6. Treasurer’s Report, 2023 Accounts
7. Election of Officers & changes for 2023-2024 (from the list identified at the 2018 AGM, officers have year-round tasks and would be expected to attend all meetings):
– Coordinator (*** The new Coordinator may then chair the remaining meeting)
– Deputy Coordinator
– Chief Route Planner
– Chaplains
– Bookings Secretary
– Treasurer
– Communication & PR
– Medical
– Minute Secretary
– Safeguarding
8. Progress on Pilgrimage Routes & Theme for 10-25 August 2024 (save the date)
9. Important Support Team functions, and names noted (also noted at the 2018 AGM, essential for the efficient organisation of the pilgrimage each year, but not expected to attend all meetings).
– Accommodation teams
– Catering / cooks van driver
– Church Liaison
– Drinks Car
– Luggage Van Drivers
– Housekeeper (aka Quartermaster) – Equipment & Storage requires new location in 2024)
– Ecumenical Liaison
– Other roles to bear in mind and fill according to perceived need and availability: Fire Safety and Security / Alternative transport / Prayer stops co-ordinator / Theme team / Webmaster / Cross Design
10. Progress on possible Reunion 2023
11. Any Other Business
12. Meeting Dates 2024 for your diary: suggested 14/1, 21/4, 23/6 and the AGM on 22/9 (corrected). Invitation is open to all pilgrims. ‘We are one team, one committee’.

Henriette Van Zaelen RIP

We have learnt of the death this week of Henriette Van Zaelen; she was suffering from lung cancer.

Henriette has walked with us for many years; she was also an active member (with other pilgrims) of the St Francis Ramblers.

Ramblers Obituary
This obituary appeared in the September issue of South East Walker, which is distrubuted to all Ramblers Association members in the South East

Fr David Russell, RIP

We have recently learnt of the death of Father David Russell, pilgrimage chaplain from 2000 to 2017.

Father David was a “late vocation” and worked (as a teacher (I think) before training at the Beda College in Rome. On ordination in1978 he was appointed curate at St Joan of Arc, Farnham (the “cradle” of our A&B pilgrimages). Fr David joined us on the Pilgrims Way Pilgrimage in 1976, and then on the 2nd Canterbury Pilgrimage in 1979. I can visualise him walking through the forest near Benenden in Kent but the earliest photo I can find is in the procession to Arundel Cathedral at the end of that pilgrimage.

Fr David also took part in the 1980 St Joan of Arc Pilgrimage, a spin off from our pilgrimage, to celebrate the Farnham church’s golden jubilee.

Fr David had various posting around the Diocese, including St Leonards on Sea, but eventually settled in a flat in Portslade from where he supplied other parishes, often taking up residence for a number of weeks while the parish priest was away. Despite several attempts, David never passed his driving test (on the final attempt his car was driven into on the way to the test centre) so getting to these parishes made him an expert in train and bus travel.

In 2000 Fr David re-joined the pilgrimage as Chaplain, and served in that role until 2017. He strove to balance the needs of an Ecumenical pilgrimage and the rules of the Church, pushing the boundaries and getting his knuckles rapped more than once. He felt able to take risks to best serve his “mobile parish”. It didn’t always work, but David was genuine in his efforts to minister to the pilgrims,

During his time as chaplain Fr David was less and less able to walk with the pilgrims, and joined the support team, hitching a ride with the van, caterers or drinks car. He was the instigator of the group that played Scrabble in the evenings whilst others went to the pub (Fr David had given up alcohol at this stage).

Following a nasty fire in his flat in Portslade, Fr David moved to a convent in Littlehampton. Having lost his address book in the fire he rather lost touch with people, but was always interested to hear about the pilgrimage and the pilgrims.

Funeral details are yet to be announced.

May he rest in peace.


Book now for Bristol to Arundel Pilgrimage 2023

We now welcome Bookings for our annual ecumenical walking pilgrimage which takes place 12 to 27 August. 

Under ‘Our 2023 Pilgrimage’ links are found for the Booking Form and Medical Form.

Walking from the heart of ancient Bristol to Arundel Cathedral in its 150th year. Walking along paths, old ways and byways from Avon through Wiltshire, Hampshire and West Sussex.

Our volunteer team has been busy finding accommodation and walking out the route each day, locatings chapels and places of interest.

Bruce is designing a new Pilgrim’s Cross for 2023. Aidan has also been busy logging in our records crosses from earlier years, and you can now see these under ‘View Earlier Pilgrimages’ on PilgrimsLive! pages.

The poster for this year has been designed by The Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton | Communications and we are grateful for their support again this year. You can also find us on the home page of at the page footer under Ecumenical Pilgrimage

You can also find our destination at Arundel Cathedral on 25th August here at: