• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

ONE of the region’s most respected businessmen is ‘saddling up’ to tackle an epic cycle ride to raise funds for an educational outreach programme – and celebrate the homecoming of The Lindisfarne Gospels.

John Holmes, who has held several senior executive and board roles at regional housing and regeneration companies and organisations, is raising money for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), where he is a Trustee. In order to do so John will be cycling 540 miles, following the route taken by monks carrying the remains of St Cuthbert.

The monks’ pilgrimage took more than 100 years before they decided the saint’s final resting place would be in Durham. John’s ride will take eight days, taking in several significant ‘resting places’ of the monks including Norham, Elsdon, Kirkcudbright, Whithorn, Workington, Kirby-in-Furness, Aldingham, Ripon, Crayke, Durham, and Chester-le-Street.

“I was inspired by a Durham University lecture on the Lindisfarne Gospels last time they were in the region. The Gospels are the finest surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscript and are intrinsically linked to both Saint Cuthbert and our Christian heritage,” explained John.

“I’ve named the route The Cuthbert Cycling Challenge, and my ride will start on Thursday, September 1, from Holy Island. It will finish eight days later when I’ll arrive at The Laing Art Gallery, where the Lindisfarne Gospels will be on show from September 19,” he added.

Fearing the threat of the invading Vikings, the monks took St Cuthbert’s body together with the Lindisfarne Gospels on a remarkable journey, starting in 875AD. Initially, they took the Saint’s remains to Norham in the Scottish borders, and then to Whithorn and various settlements in Cumbria, Crayke in North Yorkshire before heading north to Chester-Le-Street, where they established a church and rested for over a century. It was also where the Gospels were translated into English.

In 995AD, the community moved with the body of St Cuthbert to Ripon, before heading north, settling in Durham which became the final resting place of St Cuthbert.

The treasures of St Cuthbert are now displayed in the Durham Cathedral Museum. However, the Lindisfarne Gospels were separated from the Cathedral during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. After being in private ownership, the Gospels became part of the founding collection of the British Library in 1753.

This year’s exhibition will be the first time they have been displayed in the North East since 2013.

“I’ll be cycling more than 50 miles a day and I’ve been training for several months. I’ve completed several coast-to-coast and long distance charity rides over the years, but this will be the toughest and most ambitious challenge I’ve undertaken.

“My journey will take me through places such as Sedbergh, Ripon, and Durham – with overnight stays in Elsdon, Castle Douglas, Workington, Dent and Easingwold.

“Ensuring that everyone is able to access heritage and culture is very important to me, as I have seen first-hand the positive impact culture can have on people’s lives.

“The Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition is designed to raise awareness of the historical significance to the region, and demystify and spark discussion about how we connect to the wider world, alongside the possible futures we can achieve together.

“This is why I’m raising money for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, so we can provide life changing cultural experiences for the children and young people of the North East.

“I have contacted local churches and organisations along the route and will be meeting various people along the way to say hello and hand over a commemorative card and have a photo opportunity.

“I’ve been working on the route and logistics around the ride for about two years and I’m looking forward to finally getting started. I will also be writing an account of the journey with a view of having this established as The Cuthbert Cycling Challenge with local and national cycling bodies.”

As well as being a Trustee at TWAM, John is Chair at Bernicia Group. He’s a former Operations Director at Kielder Observatory; Head of Property at Durham Cathedral; a non-exec Director at Visit County Durham; Chief Executive at Hull Forward; Director of Regeneration and Tourism at One North East; Managing Director at Paramount Homes and Project Director at Tyne & Wear Development Corporation.

John aims to raise £5,000 for TWAM’s outreach programme and you can sponsor him at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/cuthbertcyclingchallenge

By admin