On Sunday 3 August Annie Suddaby will set out on “Annie’s Ride” which will take her, mounted on Gypsy, on a journey of 150 miles visiting 50 Somerset churches over 24 days. Starting at the lovely St Mary’s Magdalene at the heart of Taunton, the team, which also includes Annie’s sister-in-law, Jo French, will visit the Blackdown Hills, Exmoor, the Quantocks and the Somerset Levels.
Why? Because as well as being a horsewoman, Annie is a bellringer and she wants to help raise funds to restore the bells at St Mary’s. These bells are in a sorry state: the carillon and the clock chimes have broken; the bells don’t sound good and are difficult to ring so they need to be recast and rehung. It will all cost £300,000. Annie’s ambitious and imaginative initiative aims to bring in a healthy chunk of this.
It hasn’t all gone to plan. Her own horse, Mieke, suffered a bad fall while getting fit for the Ride. She injured her front legs; she is now recovering but sadly she won’t be fit in time. But this is a wonderful world: a kind benefactor from Cornwall heard of Annie’s predicament and has come to the rescue, generously lending her own horse, Gypsy.
So the Ride goes ahead. It all starts on Sunday 3 August at the family service at St Mary’s, when the Ride will receive the Church’s blessing. At the conclusion of that service at about 11.00am, Annie will mount up at the main entrance to the church and will ride out of Taunton on an itinerary that takes her to no less than 50 local churches over the following three and a half weeks.
As she arrives at each church, Annie and sister in law Jo will join a band of local experienced ringers to ring the bells. Jo is starting from scratch and it is her challenge to learn the skill as she goes from tower to tower. Annie plans to complete her adventure on Tuesday 26 August by riding back into Taunton for a Civic reception at St Mary’s Magdalene.
It is a lot of riding and a lot of ringing. Let’s hope it raises a lot of money! All good luck to them!
For further details visit www.appealforabell.com which has the route and will run an interactive map during the Ride and a Blog to record progress.
But here also are details of the route:-