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Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike have gained a better understanding of the daily challenges faced by the public.

Tuesday 10th April 2018

Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike have gained a better understanding of the daily challenges faced by the public.

Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike have paid tribute to the visionary community work they encountered on a 10-day Lent pilgrimage as they walked 80 miles around Suffolk.

Inviting people to join them on the walk, the bishops visited schools, churches, businesses, a prison, priory and military base among other institutions playing an important role in their diocese.

"We have learned so much more about our county and the wonderful people who live and work here," said Bishop Martin "met people who have set up community projects, started new businesses, and in one case developed a new school, and then gone through the ups and downs involved in building them up.  What seems to make our county work is vision and determination and perhaps, above, all the relationships that bring people together and enable them to work together."

Bishop Martin embarked on the pilgrimage which concluded on March 29 with his colleague Bishop Mike, walking about eight miles daily. They began and finished each day with a prayer service at a church in the diocese.  The expedition began at St Stephen’s Chapel, in Bures, and finished at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, having followed a route that took in the villages of Cavendish, Keddington, Little Thurlow, Exning, Worlington, as well as the towns of Sudbury, Mildenhall, Haverhill, Newmarket and, finally, Bury St Edmunds.

Highlights of the trip included meeting the children of St Mary's Primary School in Bures, Gainsborough Silks, Haverhill Arts Centre, Clare Priory and Nethergate Brewery, the US Airforce base at Mildenhall, the Branston Pickle factory in Bury, as well Highpoint Prison.  In an extended stop at Newmarket, the bishops visited the town's Open Door programme for the homeless, the Animal Health Trust, Mr Fothergills Seeds and Bedford House Stables - home to trainer Luca Cumani's horses including one called God's Gift.

"It has been marvellous to see some of the highly skilled work going on in our county in quiet and understated ways," Bishop Mike said.  "Visits to the schools and engaging with the children and young people was a particular highlight - such openness to learning and such challenging questions! One of the most impressive aspects has been the way in which individuals are developing the fabric of our social life by showing vulnerable groups care and attention - unsung yet vital work, through community and arts groups and churches reaching out to the isolated and lonely."

To watch the bishops' video diary from the pilgrimage please visit their Facebook page @Bishopscofesuffolk.