Almost 2000 enthusiastic walkers crossed the start line on Parkers Piece and were treated to a stroll around seven of Cambridge’s famous Colleges this weekend. The City’s annual Bridge the Gap Walk, sponsored by The Cambridge Building Society, took place on Sunday (10 September) and was, in the words of its participants, “a most memorable event, which I feel privileged to have taken part in” and “a lovely morning out with the family”.
Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and Romsey Mill will benefit from funds raised from entry fees and walkers’ sponsorship efforts and it is hoped each will receive upwards of £20,000 each, which would bring the grand total of funds raised from the event since it first started to over £480,000. Hopes are high that in 2018, the annual event will now hit the half a million pound mark!
This year’s special route included access to the contemporary art of the Heong Gallery in Downing College; pointed out the four-sided courtyard in Corpus Christi (one of the oldest continually inhabited courtyards in the country) and the Buddleia (butterfly bush) in St Catharine’s; enabled walkers to see the Fellow’s Garden in St John’s, modern artwork in Jesus and Darwin’s Garden in Christ’s; and rounded up with a musical finale - courtesy of Waterbeach Brass Band - and access to the chapel designed by Sir Christopher Wren, in Emmanuel. “I loved the route this year!!” said one participant, continuing: “I have never been in the chapel before”, another adding “To walk through seven of the older Cambridge Colleges was a privilege and very much enjoyed”.
The College’s stunning gardens, in late summer bloom, were also remarked upon by many of the walkers, adding splashes of dramatic colour and further interest to the route’s timelessly impressive architecture. Many walkers also had personal reasons for taking part, with many families who have benefitted from Romsey Mill’s work also enjoying the walk of around five miles and another commenting: “Absolutely loved the walk, as a first timer it was brilliant. My father passed away at Arthur Rank Hospice many years ago and he was given so much care, it helped me a great deal.”
Other highlights new for this year included artists from Urban Sketchers dotted around sketching scenes on the route, golden tickets in winning goody bags and a charming musical welcome back to Parkers Piece from Cambridge Ten Sing Choir, followed by acoustic musician Ben Drake and local singer songwriter Christian Smith performing inside the Time for Cake tent.
Bridge the Gap revolves around collaboration, with Cambridge University and individual Colleges liaising closely with the walk’s organising committee in order to make the walk possible. Tasha Hills, Senior Event and Marketing Officer from Arthur Rank Hospice Charity said: “We are so grateful to everyone who helps makes Bridge the Gap such a feature in the Cambridge calendar. As always we are indebted to the truly generous involvement of the Colleges and University, the sponsorship provided by Cambridge Building Society, Cambridge Assessment, TTP and The Rotary Club of Cambridge, sterling marshalling support from the likes of The Army Cadet Force and our own Hospice staff and volunteers.”
Chief Executive of The Cambridge Building Society, Stephen Mitcham adds: “Their commitment and enthusiasm just goes to show how much of a highlight Bridge the Gap is to Cambridge.”
Neil Perry, Chief Executive of Romsey Mill comments: “Dry weather prevailed in the end for what was a cracking day out for families and anyone in fact - from Cambridge or further afield – keen to experience the stories, hidden sights and cultural heritage of our wonderfully picturesque City. Bridge the Gap has again provided a brilliant opportunity for people and organisations to come together as a community, participate in a unique and enjoyable event, and help raise funds for local charities. We want to thank everyone who took part of gave up their Sunday to volunteer and make it a great day for all!”
The Charities are encouraging those who have been kind enough to raise sponsorship to collect and hand it in by the end of September, so that the grand total of funds raised can be calculated and announced. Sponsorship forms and monies can be accepted in person at Arthur Rank Hospice’s Shelford Bottom home between Monday and Friday 9-5pm, or sent by post to Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, Cherry Hinton Road, Shelford Bottom, Cambridge CB22 3FB. Online options for sending donations are also available: please call 01223 675888 for details.