The hugely ambitious “Pluscarden 1230 Pilgrimage” has, in recent weeks, taken some major steps forward with:
- the appointment of 3 new patrons to join the Royal Patron, H.R.H. Princess Michael of Kent
- a major programme of route recces
- the formation of a support group which has been strengthened with the appointments of a new and experienced manager and a documentary maker
- the support from exciting new sponsors
- the appointment of one Aberdeenshire’s well known charity champions to assist the planning team
Three well known walkers whose exploits have all been published have agreed to help take the event forward and they are already proving their worth. Rory Stewart MP has had a remarkable life to date but it was his breath-taking walks through Afghanistan in the winter of 2001/2, so beautifully described in his book “The places in between” that so inspired the pilgrimage director David Broadfoot to ask for his support. Harry Bucknall, a former officer in the Coldstream Guards, followed the pilgrimage route the Via Francigena, which runs from Canterbury to Rome, and described the experience in a moving yet amusing way in his book “Like a tramp, Like a pilgrim”. Finally, Alice Warrender, now Alice Carter, who on the 18th February 2011 was knocked off her bike on Fulham Broadway and who subsequently decided after major brain surgery to also walk the Via Francigena, on her own. It was her account of the physical and spiritual impact of that epic journey, so beautifully related in her book “An Accidental Jubilee”, that finally decided David to proceed with the whole project.
The support team, which will follow the entire pilgrimage providing food and shelter en route, now has a new manager following the sad departure, for family reasons, of ex Walking with the Wounded expert Marty Wilkin. The new manager is Jai Lama, a former Gurkha Officer who served with the British army for 25 years. He flies in from Kathmandu on April 1st and will have just under 2 months to get to grips with the project before the support group of 10 leaves for France on Tuesday 30th May. He will be joined in the team by Christopher Court, a young film maker from London, who will document the event from preparation at the Abbey in late May to its successful arrival back in early September.
Meanwhile the list of sponsors continues to grow and now includes Landrover, Clark Commercials, Tunnocks, Hamlyns of Scotland, Cornelian Asset Management, Gleaner Oils, Ashers the Bakers as well as several private individuals who have made substantial donations.
Finally, the planning team has been hugely boosted by the support of that well-known charity supporter, Catherine Robertson Ross from Aboyne. In the short time that she has been with us her progress has been remarkable as she finds the support team vehicles, clothing, phones, hi viz vests, trailers and many more essential items. In addition, she has put together a major concert in support of the project in St Mary’s Cathedral, on Wednesday 12th April at 7.30pm.
Pilgrims continue to join us and the closing date remains open until 28th February although in certain circumstances that can be extended. To find out more about who is involved go to www.appealpluscardenabbey.org.uk or Facebook 1230 Pilgrimage where regular updates are posted.