John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.

Tuesday 24th June

Route: Preston to Liverpool

Mileage: 46.54 miles 924 miles so far; 576 miles to go

Weather: Sunny, broken cloud

I came down as a few of the core members were leaving for their day activities and had breakfast with others. It was Almaz' leaving party tonight - a pity I couldn't stay for it.

The nature of L'Arche means that assistant recruitment is is always a priority to provide the high level of support to the core members. Each year, L'Arche welcomes a number of summer assistants for the holiday period, but otherwise relies on people to commit themselves usually for a minimum of 12 months. Previous experience in the care field or of supporting people with learning disabilities is not necessary, as training is given, but a commitment to community life and to L'Arche's values is required. I'm aware that this is the time of year when exam results are coming in and young people are making decisions about their future and a possible gap year, so hope that some will consider L'Arche. It's great that students have the opportunity for a gap year – in my day it would have been considered definitely career limiting – as I have seen assistants grow in confidence and develop invaluable life skills whilst in L'Arche. Some have come for a year and stayed for many more.

After 2 days' break, it was time to hit the road at about 9.00 am. I had hoped to visit my mother's family home in Mawdesley, near Ormskirk, where my cousin David lives, but he and Angela Finch had arranged to go to see my aunt Margy in Maghull where I was due to have lunch. Again, the route to Liverpool was going through familiar territory. My dad was born in Burscough where, until bulldozed by Tesco for a new store, Peet's Mill had stood near the canal. My great grandfather had built it in the mid 1800s. to run his business supplying provisions to the railway workers who were carving the new line north. Records also show he was the first sub-postmaster of the area - a business a little more secure then than it is today.

I decided to take the direct route down the A6 alongside which there are stretches of good cycle track. It's really flat around these parts, with wide horizons to the west across fertile fields of soft fruit and vegetables, and the odd farm shop selling fresh produce along the route. Southport and Formby aren't far away, as signposts confirm. To the east Parbold Hill comes into sight, and a turn off to Rufford and other villages my mother would have walked or cycled to in her youth.

I got to Maghull by 11.20 in bright sunshine. It was good to see David and Angela who had dropped by with some vegetables for my Aunt Margy who had prepared a lovely lunch - many thanks for this. She is still remarkably active at 92, and still takes a keen interest in her garden, so it gave me a chance to inspect the progress of her tomatoes, beans and potatoes in the vegetable patch. Her only remaining sister, Carmella, had recently died in Montreal, so it was important to spend some time chatting and reading the accounts of how the memorial service had gone. I set off at around 2.00 for L'Arche Liverpool where I was due to arrive by 3.30.

The route from Maghull took me along the Leeds Liverpool canal. I think I came off the route a little early but the SatNav guided me successfully through unfamiliar Walton onto the ring road from where I knew my way into Liverpool along the Prescott Road through Old Swan.

Swinging into Lockerby Road, I was unaware of the gathering awaiting me at The Ark, the Community's recently refurbushed office and workshop complex. Balloons, banners, and a bottle of Bucks Fizz shaken in champion style by Paul Sargent, made it a very special welcome. It was just so good to see many familiar faces in the impressive new horticultural area. After a shower, it was time for the Agape which is the opportunity for the whole community to gather, hear the latest news and pray together before a big meal. It gave me the chance of telling people about my trip and sharing a few anecdotes of the journey so far.

For the meal, it was a case of sitting anywhere at the table, and I was amazed to find that I was next to Raimonda, a Lithuanian assistant who had recently returned from Zimbabwe, whom Jane Salmonson had suggested I contact for first hand knowledge of the Harare Community. So it was really useful to hear Raimonda's experience of the L'Arche Community there. I arranged to have some more time with her in the morning before I left.

Then it was time to go back to Tabor, the house of prayer and rest, where I was staying. The other guest there was Gerbhaardt from ICE, a Christian Agency in Germany, which places young people with L'Arche. Hilary Wilson came round and had a chat - we had last met last June at Tymwar when she was helping to lead a retreat and I was doing the cooking. She is also a keen cyclist so was interested to hear and see more of my journey. Hilary's written a really good summary of L'Arche in the book "My Life Together", published by DLT

I first came to Tabor in 1990, when I think I met Peter Tyler for the first time, and realised what an important resource it is for the Community – a place where assistants can crash out from their daily routine, find space to relax, and use the beautiful prayer room where the Eucharist is celebrated from time to time. A lot of effort has been put into fundraising for the refurbishment of Tabor, and it's lovely to see the fruits of all the hard work. It's a really warm and welcoming house. Thank you Martin for making it such a relaxing place to stay.

1 comment:

laya said...

Good Idea ! Really appreciated that you want to donate your winning money to Zimbabwe community....Recruitment Agency