Two curates from the Diocese of Peterborough will be taking part in a unique challenge on the River Nene over the May Day weekend. Tim Smith – Curate of St Giles, Northampton – and Tom Houston – Curate of St Mary the Virgin, Burton Latimer – will be paddling the length of the river in an open canoe, starting from Bouverie Court on Sunday 5th May and finishing at Peterborough Cathedral on Tuesday 7th May.
We caught up with Tom to ask him more about this fundraising feat:
- What has promoted you to take on this challenge?
Both myself and Tim have a great love for canoeing, and when we began our curate training we talked about paddling the Nene together. I remembered that Kane Taylor (from Weldon with Deene) and his fellow curates completed the same challenge of paddling from Northampton to Peterborough in 23 and a half hours over three days during his curacy. We decided we would attempt the challenge – and perhaps attempt to beat his time!
- How many miles will it be?
The River Nene flows through many of the parishes in the Diocese of Peterborough, and Bouverie Court and Peterborough Cathedral are both linked together by this river with 61 miles in-between. This will take about 23 hours to paddle by canoe – however, we will split this over three days from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday, with the majority of the paddling on the Monday. We are looking to carry the canoe into Peterborough Cathedral late on the Tuesday afternoon.
- What was it particularly about Kane’s effort that prompted you to follow in his footsteps?
I used to work with Kane at the Frontier Centre in Irthlingborough, and when he left to become ordained, I loved his idea of joining together canoeing and his calling to ministry in the diocese. We have since reconnected since I began training, and loved the idea of the next generation of curates completing the same challenge.
- What training have you undertaken so far?
Both myself and Tim have been paddling for years, so we have continued to practice in preparation for the paddling challenge. But it won’t be easy. It took Kane and his team three days to paddle the 23 hours. To beat the time, we will need to take fewer breaks and keep up a faster pace, sustaining this for the whole time. The weather could cause major problems, especially if the wind is against us.
- What causes are you raising money for?
We are both in our second year and love the churches that we are being trained in. I am currently at St Mary’s, Burton Latimer, and we are raising money to build a servery in our church in order to open the church up to the local community. The money raised will go towards the £10,000 needed for the project. Tim is at St Giles and is also looking to raise money for the church’s ministry.
- Where will you be staying over during the challenge?
The Frontier Centre has generously offered us free accommodation for the Sunday and we will be staying with another Curate in Oundle on the Monday night.
- With it being such a touch challenge, I imagine that you will be grateful for support
Yes, indeed. We have received offers from clergy, laity and possibly even Bishop John to join us for small stretches of the paddle, as well as from people who wish to greet us along the way. Tim Alban Jones has offered to meet us at the Cathedral to celebrate the achievement. We would be honoured if others from the diocese would be able to join us in supporting this event in some way.
To donate to Tom and Tim’s challenge, visit https://www.facebook.com/donate/2619751158066760/2619751218066754/.