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Hackney cyclists pedal to Paris to raise funds for St Mary’s Centre appeal

PUBLISHED: 10:47 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:47 26 October 2017

From left Peter Strickland, 41, Chris Garrett, 39, and James Lyons, 43. Picture: James Lyons

From left Peter Strickland, 41, Chris Garrett, 39, and James Lyons, 43. Picture: James Lyons

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A trio of Hackney cyclists have raised more than £5,000 for the renovation of St Mary’s Centre in Stoke Newington by pedalling from London to Paris in just 24 hours.

From left James Lyons, Chris Garrett and Peter Strickland at the Arc de Triomphe. From left James Lyons, Chris Garrett and Peter Strickland at the Arc de Triomphe.

James Lyons, 43, cycled more than 200 miles from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Arc de Triomphe alongside neighbours Chris Garrett, 39, and Peter Strickland, 41. All three are members of the congregation at St Mary’s Church in Stoke Newington Church Street.

He told the Gazette: “The ride was painful, and long. But all things considered, it went well. It was a beautiful journey.”

The trio’s fundraising efforts will support the campaign launched by St Mary’s to carry out a large-scale renovation of the centre – estimated to cost up to £1.6million – to ensure it is fit for purpose for the charities and cultural groups that use it.

Almost £1.1m has been raised so far, following the sale of a church property in Stoke Newington last year and a series of grants.

In May, St Mary’s launched a cash drive for £250,000 of public support.

"The ride was painful, and long. But all things considered, it went well. It was a beautiful journey."

James Lyons

The other required funds are being sought from additional grants and further fundraising efforts including the hosting of a winter market on November 25 at The Old Church, next to Clissold Park.

Organisations including Hackney Winter Night Shelter, Hackney Foodbank, Hackney Migrants’ Centre, Kehillah North London synagogue and humanitarian aid group Doctors of the World work out of the building, which sits adjacent to St Mary’s Church.

But it is no longer suitable for its users, James told the Gazette: “It’s better than nothing, but it doesn’t have enough showers and the kitchen isn’t big enough.

“For projects like the Hackney Winter Night Shelter the amount of beds we can offer is limited and the quality of the service is too.

“We need to expand it and improve the quality of the place.”

From left Chris Garrett, 39, Peter Strickland, 41, and James Lyons, 43. Picture: James Lyons From left Chris Garrett, 39, Peter Strickland, 41, and James Lyons, 43. Picture: James Lyons

St Mary’s Church Rector Dilly Baker told the Gazette: “It’s wonderful that people are so committed to the cause.”

They can see there is a deep need for this centre in Stoke Newington. It’s considered an affluent area but there are pockets of deprivation that go unseen by the majority of people.

“This centre is an effort to work with those who are most in need, those who remain invisible most of the time.”

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