MORE than £100,000 - described by organisers as “a record amount” - was raised for churches across Dorset thanks to the annual Ride+Stride event.

With income and donations to church charities in sharp decline as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dorset Historic Churches Trust (DHCT) said these historic buildings across the county need support now more than ever.

With this as the driving force, residents walked, cycled and cantered their way between churches in September in a bid to raise the necessary funds.

Despite concerns that the event would not be as successful as previous years, the challenge raised £110,000, exceeding the former best year by £22,000.

According to DHCT this is “a record amount”, which will be used alongside grants to repair leaking roofs, prop up sagging walls and install better community facilities.

“There was a point in the year when we considered calling off the whole event, but we have been blessed with great supporters all over the county and I thank them all wholeheartedly,” said the trust’s chairperson, John Stokoe.

A priority for DHCT has always been weatherproofing the roofs and stonework of churches, and now it hopes to make church buildings the centre of each community – especially in rural areas where churches are often the oldest and largest structure in each town or village.

More than 160 parishes across Dorset took part in the 2020 event, helped by a team of organisers.

Each parish will receive 50 per cent of the money raised by its efforts returned directly to its home church for use.