The rector of Wimborne Minster, the Rev Vanessa Herrick is to walk from Porto in Portugal to Santiago da Compostella in northern Spain to raise funds to make up some of the shortfall in the church’s funds.
Walking one of the pilgrim routes to the Shrine of St James, she will be accompanying her husband The Rev David Herrick and a group from the Diocese of St Edmundsbury (Suffolk) who are celebrating the 100th anniversary of that Diocese.
Legend has it that St James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.
The Rev Herrick is calling the project Walking for Wimborne.
Wimborne Minster church doesn’t just provide a spiritual home for local people, it is a focal point of the town, attracting thousands of visitors every year.
Open seven days a week, it takes £800 a day to keep it open and functioning.
“The congregation are very generous, but it would be good if my walk could receive the support of all members of the community,” she said.
She added that the Minster church has the role of a cathedral and the resources of a parish church.
“I’m afraid our books don’t quite balance. Each year we have to pay £90,000 to the diocese, around £80-£90,000 to employ staff and the same amount for maintenance including heat and light.”
To this end she will be approaching local businesses this week, hoping for sponsorship and inviting them to display one of her yellow posters.
Vanessa’s target is £2,000, but she would love to raise more.
She is flying to Oporto on 2nd May and for the next seven days will walk a total of 84 miles.
On the tenth day they will have some free time to look round the cathedral which boasts the Botafumerio, which is a huge swinging incense burner.
A keen walker - Vanessa completed a section of the northern Spanish route in 1999 - she is looking forward to the trek and plans to pray for the town en route.
“It will be a beautiful route, and will be so good to meet people on the way,” said Vanessa.
She added that people embark on the pilgrimage for a number of reasons.
“Some want to say thank you, and others just for some thinking space,” she added.
Although the temperature should be in the 70s there is a fifty per cent chance of rain.
The Rev Herrick took over as rector of the Minster in February 2012.
“It has been a challenging couple of years,” she said. “The Minster needs to play to its strengths. It is there in the community for all the big occasions.”
If you would like to sponsor the rector, send a donation, payable to Wimborne Minster PCC, to The Parish Office, Church House, High Street, Wimborne BH21 1HT or go to https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraiser/search.html and type in ‘Vanessa Herrick’.
Minster’s new website
The Minster has chosen Easter Day to launch its new website - www.wimborneminster.org.uk.
Designed by Andy Clayton, who produced the site for Christchurch Priory, it is very user friendly, with beautiful photos and plenty of visitor information.
Report and photos by Marilyn Barber