TODAY the newly-appointed High Sheriff of Staffordshire, Mrs Ann Fisher, will be walking along the pilgrimage route - Two Saints Way - in order to raise awareness and funds for local Staffordshire community groups.
The High Sheriff was due to set off from St Bertoline’s Church Barthomley - on the Staffordshire border - this morning, arriving at Stoke Minster at 5.30pm.
The High Sheriff has chosen to walk the newly re-created 88-mile pilgrimage route, The Two Saints Way, during her year in office, to raise funds and awareness for the High Sheriff Fund For Staffordshire - a permanent endowment fund which raises vital funds and support for small community groups within Staffordshire.
The walk started out from Chester Cathedral earlier this year, and will finish at Lichfield Cathedral on St Chad’s Day - Sunday, March 1 2015 for a service of dedication. The walk, which is open to everyone to join, will take a total of 264 hours over 9 days and over a distance of 88 miles.
Mrs Ann Fisher, High Sheriff of Staffordshire, said: "One of my passions is walking and, when I heard about the newly revived path of the Two Saints Way, I felt this was a great opportunity, not only to explore different areas right across the heart of Staffordshire, but also to raise awareness of the new route itself.
"I love the idea of there being a continuum of walkers, or pilgrims, walking through the county, making connections with history, with each other and with the various communities encountered along the way. Through the various villages, hamlets, churches, pubs, museums, youth centres, businesses, visitor attractions and more, we will encounter a rich tapestry of Staffordshire Culture, past and present. This is a fantastic opportunity for young and old to learn about the county, the community groups within it and make new connections to each other."
The Two Saints Way footpath begins in Chester following canal paths to the dramatic Beeston Castle before reaching the ancient market town of Nantwich. From Nantwich, there are notable churches such as the intriguing Primitive Methodist Chapel at Englesea Brook and significant industrial heritage sites at Stoke-on-Trent. The route follows the Trent Valley passing the impressive Trentham Estate and the canal town of Stone before reaching the county town of Stafford. After meandering along the River Sow the route joins crosses Cannock Chase, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, before the last few miles to Lichfield and the ancient sites at
the Cathedral and St Chad’s Well.
The footpath is called the Two Saints Way after two Saxon saints who brought Christianity to the ancient kingdom of Mercia in the seventh century. The shrines of St Chad at Lichfield, and St Werburgh at Chester, were popular destinations for pilgrims in medieval times.
The High Sheriff Fund for Staffordshire is a permanent endowment fund, started in 2008, which distributes grants to needy causes across the county. Grass root organisations and community groups in Staffordshire are encouraged to apply to this fund, which awards up to £500 per application, and can make a transformative difference to small projects at a local level.
To support the High Sheriff’s walk, donations can be made via http://www.justgiving.com/highsheriffofstaffordshire or alternatively by texting ANNF14 plus the amount to 70070, so for example, to donate £10, you would text ANNF14 10 to 70070.
To take part in the Two Saints Way walk with the High Sheriff, please go to the following link for further information: https://www.facebook.com/highsheriffofstafford.