The British Pilgrimage Trust CIO (Charity No 1176045) aims to advance British pilgrimage as a form of cultural heritage that promotes holistic wellbeing. By championing a time-honoured form of access to Britain’s spiritual heritage – its churches, shrines, and cathedrals – the Trust seeks to improve awareness of that heritage, while also providing improved physical and mental health, community engagement, and connection with nature. In this way, pilgrimage is a practice that can be of significant benefit to the general public, and to many different faith and non-faith groups in Britain.
In order to realise this benefit, the Trust has identified the key strategic objective of restoring pilgrimage along the Old Way from Southampton to Canterbury; a historic route across the South Downs, inspired by the 14th-century Gough Map. The Trust intends for the Old Way to act as a flagship for the practice of pilgrimage more generally, giving other organisations ideas and methods to encourage the practice through their own activities. The Trust intends to launch the Old Way in 2020, in order to coincide with the anniversary celebrations of the translation of St Thomas Becket. The Trust also seeks to produce a range of web resources – including an Events Directory, and an index of Great Routes – to promote pilgrimage across Britain and the various groups who provide it.
Governance and Executive Team
Having registered in December 2017, the Trust is the vision of William Parsons, who has been pioneering new directions for British pilgrimage since 2004, and Dr Guy Hayward, who started ChoralEvensong.org and wrote his doctorate on how singing forms community.
The Board of Trustees and the Trust’s panel of advisors brings together experience from a wide range of sectors; from journalism and public relations, to heritage and academia. The Chairman of Trustees, Peter Gangsted, spent half his career at Unilever before becoming a founding partner of Allianz Capital Partners, the direct investment arm of Allianz AG, and then a partner of Cinven, a pan-European private equity investor.
The day-to-day running of the Trust is the responsibility of a small team, working from rural Kent and a co-working space in Central London.
What we’re doing
In order to realise this vision, the BPT has identified the following strategic objectives:
- Developing the Old Way by researching, plotting, and waymarking the path itself, and the facilities, songs, customs, churches, shrines, and landscape artwork along the route. We also seek to support local organisations and businesses in catering to pilgrims – to provide affordable accommodation, food, and hospitality. Additionally, we wish promote a culture of “OTA – Open to All”, whereby people of all faiths and none can be welcomed into churches and cathedrals.
- Promoting the route through guided pilgrimages, media spots, presentations, and photographic exhibitions.
- Creating resources to help people access pilgrimage heritage for themselves – including guidebooks, GPX routes, and a directory of pilgrimage events taking place across the UK.
- Building sustainability by engaging local communities along the Old Way in the heritage value of the spiritual landscape on their doorstep, and by identifying partnerships with other third-sector organisations and local government.
The cost of our work until 2020 Old Way launch
Old Way Project (restricted): £80,000
Charity Costs (unrestricted): £35,000
Total needed: £125,000
Please make cheques payable to “The British Pilgrimage Trust CIO” and address to 42 Acres Shoreditch, 66 Leonard St, London, EC2A 4LW.
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