On a warm May afternoon, an eager Pershore U3A crowd learnt how William Reddaway realised his post-retirement ambition to take a circular ride around England on horseback, visiting thirty cathedrals to raise money for two charities; the Family Holiday Association and the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre.

Thirty months of preparation later, including the crucial task of buying a suitable horse named Strider, William set out from Fish Hill in May 2013 through the southern Cotswolds to Gloucester. We tend to think of our cathedrals as quiet tranquil places but the reality is that most are located in the heart of modern cities and that means motorised vehicles and their attendant noise, none of which are conducive to a horse. Strider and William did not shy away from such challenges even setting off along the main dual carriageway out of Gloucester in order to take the nearest bridge over the Severn!

Having taken in Hereford, Worcester and Coventry they headed north to Lichfield, Chester and Sheffield where Strider came face to face with trams; not an experience he relished! During this part of the journey Strider developed a saddle sore so, on a vet’s advice, William dismounted and led Strider on foot through the Pennines, up to Carlisle, along Hadrian’s Wall and thence to the magnificent cities of Durham, Ripon, York, Lincoln and Peterborough where another vet pronounced that the sore was sufficiently healed for William to recommence riding.

After passing through Ely, Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds the redoubtable pair were about to meet their biggest challenge to date – the overcrowded south-east and the frantic London metropolis. Having reached St John’s Wood, via the north circular road, an incident with a succession of ambulance sirens caused William to reconsider. Strider was to travel through central London on a lorry on his way to St Paul’s and Southwark, whilst William walked.

Riding again, they visited Canterbury, Winchester and Salisbury before making it to Exeter where Strider was blessed in the cathedral itself. They arrived at Land’s End via Dartmoor and Truro. With 493 miles remaining, they rode to Wells via the Somerset Levels where they were serenaded by children from the music school. Having enjoyed a mounted police escort over the Clifton Suspension Bridge their 30th cathedral was Christchurch Oxford. As they neared home there was a bonus visit to Tewkesbury Abbey where Strider received a final blessing from the Abbot.

They returned home on 8 December 2013 having completed a seven-month journey covering 2,682 miles. To date William has raised £84,000 for his charities with sponsorship, donations and speaker’s fees. The audience thoroughly enjoyed hearing this fascinating and inspirational tale, wishing Strider a happy retirement and William further success with his fundraising.

The speaker at our Tuesday 19 June Monthly Meeting will be Peter Hare on the subject of Gloriana;, An insight into the legacy of Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Row-Barge. This will take place at 2pm at Number 8, High St, Pershore