HAMPSHIRE residents are gearing up for a challenge to raise vital funds for the county’s churches.

Run by Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust, (HIHCT) the annual Ride and Stride event raised more than £53,000 last year for essential church repairs, renovation and restoration.

It challenges people to a sponsored walk, run, cycle or drive around their local area, visiting as many churches as possible in a day.

This year more than 100 churches will take part on September 13, with eight in Eastleigh and Southampton, 32 in Romsey, 19 in Bishop’s Waltham, 22 in the New Forest, 21 in Fareham and Gosport, 23 in Alresford and 34 in Winchester and the surrounding villages involved.

Half the money raised goes to the HIHCT, and the other half to a church of the participant’s choice.

Winchester Cathedral received £2,716 from last year’s efforts – the most of any in Hampshire.

For a sponsorship form, and to find out which churches are taking part, go to hihct.org.uk.