THE vicar and curate at a Woking church are taking part in the Surrey Half Marathon with four members of the congregation to raise money for a local charity.

The Rev Jonathan Thomas and the Rev Samuel Waako will be wearing their dog collars on the 13.1-mile course, starting and finishing at Woking Park on 8 March.

The parish of St Peter in Old Woking has three churches, including All Souls’ Sutton Green and St Mark’s Westfield, which are always shut on the Sunday of the half marathon because of road closures.

“We have wondered how we could be a part of this event that brings communities together,” Samuel said.

After he and the vicar decided to take part, churchgoers Andy Holcombe, Chris Heisig, Sarah Hewetson-Grubb and Michael Baggot decided to join them.

The six have been training together at the parkrun at Woking Park. They hope to raise £600 for yourSanctuary, the Woking-based charity that helps victims of domestic abuse.

“As a church, we come across people who have been helped by the charity and we wanted to give something back to an organisation that helps the local community,” Samuel said.

He and his wife Lyz, a care assistant at the Woking Walk-In Centre, moved to the town with their three young children two years ago.

Samuel said he and Jonathan decided to run with their dog collars to profess their faith to other runners and spectators.

“Before I came into the ministry, I saw clergy as hard to relate to, but we are the same as everyone else.”

Before becoming a priest, Samuel worked as an accountant in his home country of Uganda.

“I ended up in a job I had always dreamed of having, but then I started asking questions. Those questions led me to where I am today.”

He said that the half-marathon participation is part of a wider initiative to reach communities in Woking through sport.

“In June this year we will take part in our second Woking people of faith football tournament, among other initiatives,” Samuel said.

The team have raised more than £250 towards their goal for yourSanctuary and donations can be made by visiting