TRUSTEES, Deanery and parish representatives of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust have gathered for an annual celebration of fundraising.

Each year the trust recognises the efforts of one of dozens of parishes which take part in the trust's Ride and Stride event, which takes place every September.

This year's celebrations took place at St Giles's Church at Chideock.

Participants are sponsored to cycle, walk or ride on horseback to as many churches as possible in one day between 10am and 6pm. Every year since 1999 the Morshead Trophy, named after DHCT founder Sir Owen Morshead, is presented to the parish that has achieved the most impressive results.

This year's trophy was awarded to Richard Benjamin for raising £1,530 on behalf of St Giles’s and a further £300 from the Chideock Martyrs Roman Catholic Church.

The Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Karen Gorham, also a vice-president of the Trust, presented the oak shield to Mr Benjamin. More than 80 supporters from across Dorset came to congratulate him for his determination and fundraising skills and to toast the success of the event.

He has taken part event for a number of years, cycling up to 50 miles and visiting over 40 churches on the day. His sponsorship added significantly to the huge sum of £81,000 raised last year – all of which allows the Trust to give cash grants to churches all over the county, which are in need of building restoration or development.

Ride and Stride is DHCT’s main source of income. The event involves nearly 200 parish and church communities across the county.

Simon Pomeroy said the annual celebration provides the perfect opportunity to say thank you to everyone who works so hard to conserve the wonderful heritage of Dorset’s church for future generations.

“The Trust intends to award a further £100,000 in grants to Dorset’s churches in 2017 and that just would not be possible without the hundreds of riders and striders and the thousands of sponsors backing them," he said. "Mr Benjamin is a worthy winner and we look forward to this year’s Ride and Stride on Saturday, September 9.”