A DORSET parish has been given an award for its fundraising efforts in aid of Dorset’s historic churches.

The parish of Winfrith Newburgh was singled out along with the organist at its St Christopher’s Church.

Trustees and deanery representatives from the Dorset Historic Churches Trust gathered at St Christopher’s for its annual celebration of fundraising efforts for its Ride+Stride event.

The Ride+Stride is the trust’s main source of income, involving 200 parish and church communities, who cycle, walk or horse-ride to as many churches as possible from 10am-6pm. Last year, it raised a record £75,000.

The Morshead Trophy, named after the trust’s founder Sir Owen Morshead, is presented to the parish which achieved the most impressive results.

Julian Cherryson, organist at St Christopher’s Church, received the trophy on behalf of Winfrith Newburgh parish.

He inspired the parish to raise £1,424 in the event and trustees were especially impressed by the consistency of his efforts which have raised more than £7,000 over the past seven years.

Mr Cherryson said: “I’m thrilled that the Morshead Trophy has been presented to Winfrith Newburgh parish. The church itself recently benefited from a generous grant of £10,000 from the Trust which has gone a long way towards paying for our programme of roof repairs.”

Mr Cherryson suffers from autism, which makes cycling difficult for him. He said he had been inspired by his sponsors to ride an average of 58 miles and to visit 33 churches each year for the past seven years.

His R+S hymn, which is set to the tune Sing Hosannah, was first sung at the trust’s jubilee in 2010, and was sung again at Winfrith. Simon Pomeroy, chairman of the trust, said: “This annual celebration gives us the perfect opportunity to say thank you to our trustees, DRs and all the parishes that take part in Ride+Stride.

Last year, we were able to award a total of £100,000 in grants to churches across Dorset and that just would not have been possible without our riders and striders.”

This year’s Ride+Stride is on Saturday September 13.