By Rebecca Hannant
Hedon is to host a bike meet in memory of a man who went on a mission to visit all of the region’s churches while raising awareness of male cancers.
On Sunday, July 9, St Augustine’s Church will host the event in honour of Richard Holden, a retired mental health nurse, who died aged 62 on June 24.
In 2021, Richard was diagnosed with three tumours and underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. While undergoing the treatment he contracted an infection that halted the recovery process, but it allowed him the time to find his faith.
Richard and his wife Julie were informed that he would need an operation, and without it he would only be expected to live another 12 months.
As Richard waited for his operation, he rode around Holderness and visited all 39 churches in the region. Although he was not doing it to raise money, his tour saw him raise awareness about male cancers, and highlighted the deteriorating conditions of some of the centuries-old churches.
Richard’s wife Julie said: “He heard that Hedon, and probably other churches in the area, must raise money to keep the building maintained. I’m also a big fan of churches and old buildings and had been following him in our old van – my anxiety about him falling off, which he never did! – and saw a few that had been closed or were in ruins. We thought it was sad that their stories had been forgotten. He wanted to raise awareness of them.
“They are everywhere – in our towns and villages, but I guess because we see them every day, they become invisible, and it’s only when they go up for sale, or the clock on the tower gets removed, that we think about them.
“That’s purely from a non-religious stance, but when you stand at the altar, particularly in the smaller ones, you really get a sense of something that is far bigger than us, and an echo of all those lives that have passed through the doors.”
In a bid to continue Richard’s mission to highlight the importance of churches, Hedon Bike Meets has changed its name in memory of him and will host an event this Sunday to raise money for the church as well as the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Organiser Jonathan Piers said: “St Augustine’s Church, like many historical buildings, is required to self-fund its maintenance and restoration. As you can imagine, the bill is enormous.
“While talking about ways to return the church building to its former use (before the austere Victorian era) when churches were the hub of the community: a playroom, stage, auditorium, market and even an alehouse, Richard and I talked about how bike meets tend to draw in the crowds. I had experienced this myself back in 2015 when I fought for and ultimately founded the now incredibly popular Hornsea Bike Event.
“A Church Bike Meet to raise funds for this magnificent, historical building was inspired by Richard Holden of Withernsea, who rode to every church in the county while suffering from the disease himself.
“We have held a few of these events already and each time their popularity has increased. We decided to change the name of the meet to the Richard Holden Bike Meet in his honour and sadly now it is to be held in his memory.
“We invite bikers and anyone else interested, for cake and a brew and maybe a tour of the church tower, enjoying the company of bikers and the majestic setting, and offer a little prayer for Richard who sadly passed away on June 24, 2023, and his family.”
The event will also run events monthly on Sunday, August 13, and Sunday, September 10. All meets start at 1.30pm. Parking for bikes is available on site – accessed via Church Gate and Distaff Lane – and on surrounding roads and the car park on Market Hill.
For more information, visit fb.me/e/3ykt1GEkG.