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8th October 2018

Blackpool parish ropes in Bishop to climb The Big One to raise church funds

A LANCASHIRE church sent a Bishop and a member of its leadership team to clamber up the tallest rollercoaster in Europe in darkness at the weekend to raise money for their flagship redevelopment project.

St John’s Church, Lytham, is raising £100,000 for extensive works at the back of the church, including disabled facilities, a kitchen and a place where children's activities can take place.

Lay Reader at St John’s, Joanne Hutchinson, said: “We launched our fundraising efforts at Harvest, and as part of the fundraising activities I volunteered to walk up ‘The Big One' rollercoaster at Blackpool and I was joined by the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev. Philip North.”

As part of the climb the Bishop and Joanne took pictures with the spectacular Blackpool illuminations and Blackpool Tower lit up on the promenade for as far as the eye could see.

Bishop Philip even took time to record some personal thoughts on the way up, at the top and back on the ground to be broadcast by BBC Radio Lancashire and Premier Christian Radio.

The Bishop has previous with daring stunts – not long after being made a Bishop in 2015 he abseiled down the outside of St John’s Church tower in Whittle-le-Woods, near Chorley!

All this, despite him being uncomfortable with heights … although at least this time the stunt involved a steady climb up steps rather than abseiling down the outside of the rollercoaster structure; and there were safety ropes and safety staff on hand as well!

The climb up The Big One was last Friday, October 5. When he reached the top, Bishop Philip said prayers for the surrounding town and its people as well as the whole of Lancashire from 235 feet above sea level; as well as prayers for a safe descent!

The building works will allow use of the space at the back of church not only for church and children’s activities, but also to the benefit of the parish community. Plans include a fully fitted modern kitchen, and disabled WC facilities.

Bishop Philip said: “I’ve done some crazy things in my time but I think this was the craziest ever. But my climb to the very top of The Big One in the rain was for a great cause.

“I could swear the structure moved in the wind as we climbed but it was worth it because the view from the top was completely spectacular with the illuminations, the Blackpool Tower and the piers lit up as far as we could see.

“Although I was terrified I did find the courage to stop and pray for the town and the County while at the top and I hope the whole experience raises lots of money for a wonderful cause.”

If you want to donate to the fundraising effort for St John’s then these are the bank details you need ... HSBC, Lytham St John’s PCC, Sort code: 40-30-37; Account number: 80545406 and reference ‘The Big Climb’


Ronnie Semley