At the start of January, Archdeacon Adrian Wilkinson, the rector of Douglas Union with Frankfield, in the Diocese of Cork, publicised the fact that he would walk at least 5 kilometres each day that month. This was partly for personal relaxation, but also a conscious decision to be visible around the parish while churches were closed and much normal parochial activity had ceased. The daily target he set was relatively modest so that others might be encouraged to join in too.
A number of parishioners responded to his challenge keeping pace with him or exceeding his target. It was also an opportunity to raise money for the parish, local charities, and the Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal. The fact that the parish could not host their usual large Carol Services in December, when sizeable collections for charities and overseas development projects would normally be taken, had left many worthy projects starved of financial support.
Initially the aim of the Rector was to raise €3000 through sponsorship. This figure was quickly surpassed on the specific GoFundMe page (Douglas Union with Frankfield 5Km Challenge) and through direct giving. In the end, 4 times the initial target was raised. The local charities which will benefit are the Cork Simon Community, Pieta House and Cork Penny Dinners. The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal will also receive approximately €4000.
Archdeacon Wilkinson commented:
When I took up this modest challenge and asked others to join me, I had no idea how much support it would receive. I think many people find January a difficult month at the best of times. This year it has been even more of a struggle as we still contend with the pandemic. Several parishioners, who had experienced bereavement, surgery and income loss, told me that it encouraged them to get outdoors and to walk each day. Contributing to charity at the same time was an added incentive for them.’
I am grateful for the active support and generosity of so many in the parish. Whether we are Ireland’s fittest parish is debatable, but I hope those involved will keep up their daily exercise routine, even if it is no longer in aid of good causes.