THE 2024 ROUTE
As usual, conversations on where to go in 2024 began while the A&B pilgrims were walking the 2023 route from Bristol to Arundel. A wide variety of starting points and destinations were proposed, and the final decision was made at the AGM in September. First we voted on which area of the country to go to and then we voted on the suggested routes within that area, and as you may have already spotted on the “Our 2024 Pilgrimage” section on the front page of our website, the route that was chosen was Worcester to Peterborough.
This route takes in 3 cathedrals that our pilgrimage has not visited before: Worcester, Coventry and Peterborough. Committee member Bruce had proposed this route in the first place and had provided an outline list of places which chief route planner Aidan has tweaked slightly. The first rest day will be either Warwick after 3 walking days or Coventry after 4 walking days; the hall research that we do in Warwick and Coventry will influence this decision. The second rest day will be in Market Harborough. After Market Harborough we plan to loop round the top of Rutland Water on the way to Peterborough. More details to follow in later posts.
The dates of the 2024 pilgrimage are Saturday 10th to Sunday 25th August 2024, and we look forward to welcoming both first-time and returning pilgrims. Bookings will open early in the new year.
I always thought pilgrimage coordinators are like the actors who play the Doctor in Doctor Who. Every couple of years, the face changes, but there is continuity from all that has gone before. The phrase “On the shoulders of giants” comes to mind. The same face has never come back for a second stint … until this year. David Tennant is to return as the Doctor later this month (for 3 episodes only), and I find myself back as pilgrimage coordinator, having previously held the role for the 2013 and 2014 pilgrimages. How did this come about? Students of pilgrimage history will know that ever since the “Pasta Pot Declaration” of 1991, we have had a 4-year coordinator cycle in place. In this cycle, each coordinator spends one year as deputy coordinator followed by two years as coordinator then a further year as deputy coordinator. If the cycle had continued as normal then a new deputy coordinator would have been elected at the AGM in September 2022, and would have been learning the ropes for the last 12 months which were David Fletcher’s second and final year as coordinator. However no such person was found, and so as we walked the 2023 pilgrimage we knew we had no coordinator lined up to take over for 2024. Reasoning that no previous coordinator would want to make a second four year commitment, I had the idea that previous coordinators might take the role again for one year only; for instance, myself. So we came up with a two-year plan: I would return as Coordinator for 2024 only and then Aidan Simons will return for 2025 only, which will be our big 50th anniversary year.
For 2024, Aidan replaces me as Chief Route Planner. We also have a new treasurer. Nick Lamb has stepped down, having served in this role since 2013 when he replaced Patrick. The new treasurer is our outgoing coordinator David Fletcher. Nick remains as a valued committee member and we are of course extremely thankful for his service over this time. We are cooperating more closely with the A&B diocese these day on finances, publicity and other matters. Indeed, the diocesan Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Kilmartin, has walked with us in recent years and is now on our committee.
For 2024, we have 4 hall booking teams or individuals working in parallel on different parts of the route. Some halls have already been booked. As a legacy of Covid, we now estimate the space required for all the pilgrims more rigorously, with guidelines for the number of square metres required per pilgrim. Previously it was a case of “look at the space and imagine all the pilgrim beds laid out”, although that is still necessary too, since a mathematical formula can’t cope with every possible hall layout. e.g. the main space of one of the halls already identified for 2024 is circular which is blowing our minds.
2023 PILGRIMAGE REPORT
Hopefully, you have all seen the “Pilgrims Live” web diary https://www.thepilgrims.org.uk/2023. We have added further words and photos since the end of the pilgrimage.
David has written some words to summarise the pilgrimage on our past pilgrimages web page (click on “The Bristol to Arundel Pilgrimage, 2023” at the bottom of the page).
I thank David profusely for his two years as coordinator, in which he steered us successfully through uncharted waters as the world emerged from the pandemic, while modernising some of our procedures e.g. introducing electronic payments.
THE PILGRIMAGE EQUIPMENT
The pilgrimage equipment (pots, pans, urn, toaster, utensils, boxes etc) will be on the move in January! For many years our legendary cook Frances Dean kept it in her garage, then after a brief spell in Patrick’s parents’ shed, the equipment moved to Sue and Fred’s shed in Surrey and has remained there ever since. We are grateful to Sue and Fred for looking after it all this time. This has not just been a passive exercise of leaving it in the shed but has involved a big investment in their time, keeping all the equipment clean, and indeed keeping the shed as weatherproof as possible. As another sign of our increased cooperation with the diocese, the new home for the pilgrimage equipment will be the coach house of the bishop’s residence in Pease Pottage near Crawley.
Meanwhile we have identified that some of the equipment never gets used. Here is a picture of these items:
If you can provide a new home for any of these items yourself, or you can suggest organisations who might want to take them off our hands, for free, please let us know. Or could you sell them for us on eBay? Otherwise they will be off to, for example, metal recycling which seems a shame.
John Chenery, Coordinator for the 2024 pilgrimage.