CW88 – Reconcilation: Rural Roundup

Vicar organises climb ‘over the hill’ to meet neighbours.

Residents who live in villages situated around the base of a large Somerset hill, but are not interlinked, decided the best way to get to know each other was to put on their walking boots, head out of the house and hike up the hill to meet the people who live on the other side.

Revd Annie Gurner, of Ham Hill Villages benefice, who organised the event on Ham Hill says, “We wanted to build back social recovery and encourage people to re-engage with each other. So many have been isolated and lonely. We have a necklace of small villages around this historic hill and we wanted to organise a safe way for people to enjoy the countryside, meet each other and make new friends.”

A starting point was organised from every village and once on the hill the groups could decide which route to take.

The gathering also wanted to highlight and raise funds for people in Uganda who are similarly battling the pandemic but who lack basic services such as good sanitation, drinking water or hand washing facilities. Their efforts raised £27, 685 for the cause.

Revd Annie says, “Ham Hill village churches have a long history of supporting both African communities, and water projects – our churches share every baptism collection with Wateraid and in recent years have raised thousands of pounds. Several of our churches lack their own toilets but that hasn’t stopped them ‘twinning’ their planned toilets!

“Our walk was one of 12 across the UK organised by members of the Watsan Uganda supporters. We invited teachers and pupils from our local schools and youth clubs and members of our seven village churches. Many non-walkers from the local villages also generously donated. We want to do what we can, not fester about what we can’t!”