Holy Trinity Church

A VICAR is to cycle nearly 280 miles between London and Paris, hoping to raise £5,000 for the Woking-based domestic abuse charity YourSanctuary.

The Rev Neil Hopkins is vicar of Holy Trinity and St Saviours, serving parishioners in Knaphill and Brookwood, which have been supporting YourSanctuary for some time.

The Rev Neil Hopkins heading out to train on his borrowed bike

Neil told the News & Mail that the charity ride, beginning on 5 June, came about because he had offered to ride with a friend who is doing the trip for another good cause.

“On Mothers’ Day, we took some donations to YourSanctuary and I asked them ‘what do you need?’ The answer was money – to keep the service afloat and support the 24-hour helpline.”

Neil said he realised that he could raise money for the charity on the bike ride.

“I thought it probably good for a bloke to be raising money and awareness of domestic abuse.”

He is a keen runner but new to road cycling.

“I used to cycle to college, but that was some time ago.”

Neil has borrowed a bike and has been training since the beginning of the year, while keeping up running, competing in the Surrey Half Marathon and the Maverick Surrey Hills 13km run on 18 May.

“I have a basic level of fitness, but you use different muscles. I felt it more after I had been cycling, when I went back to running.

“Some will set off at a flying pace, but we want to complete each day – you have to average 10mph – and enjoy the journey.”

Neil said the highlight will be the arrival into Paris and the finish at the Eiffel Tower.”

“There will be some prayer and it will be good to have help from the Lord. The main thing is to raise £5,000 for the charity.”

Wendy Denty, from YourSanctuary said the Holy Trinity and St Saviours were among the most supportive churches.

“Neil is doing an incredible thing and we really appreciate him raising much-needed money but also awareness of what we do,” Wendy said.

Neil has a “my donate” page, where he has written: “I thought this [ride] would be apt as the probable difficulty of this journey is nothing compared to journey that many women (and men) make as they escape terrible situations and seek to rebuild new lives away from domestic abuse. So please do give generously.”

To donate to the bike ride fundraising, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/neilcyclestoparis.

To contact YourSanctuary, visit https://www.yoursanctuary.org.uk/ or call the helpline on 01483 776822

For the full story get the 23 May edition of the News & Mail