A SPRITELY pensioner is to cycle 480 miles over two weeks, mirroring a famous religious pilgrimage, to raise money for a church’s transformation project.

Inspired by St James the Great’s trip from France to Spain, Terry Vanner begins his own pilgrimage on Saturday from St Mary’s Church in Wivenhoe High Street.

Although he won’t be leaving the UK, Mr Venner, 67, will ride the 480 miles during a series of rides in Essex and Suffolk to raise money for St Mary’s Transformation Project Appeal.

Mr Vanner, who lives in Wivenhoe’s Broadfields estate, said: “I saw the challenge online and thought it was a good idea as I had been looking to lose some weight and for something to work towards.

“I am starting on Saturday outside the church and then aiming to ride every day bar one day off.

“I have done various 100 mile rides before but this is the biggest challenge in total I have taken on.

“I am planning to do around 48 miles a day. Some I may do more, some less.”

He added: “The church project is an important project for Wivenhoe and it is good to do my bit.”

Mr Venner has set himself a target to complete the challenge by August 23 at the latest, although he could even be done before August 16.

He has so far raised more than £200 for the transformation project, which will see the church building modernised by creating an independently functioning community space, known as the Annexe.

New toilets, kitchen facilities and garden landscaping are also planned.

The Rev Erwin Lammens, the rector of St Mary’s, said: “Planning consent has been obtained for this work and tenders are currently being examined.

“I hope people will support Mr Vanner by donating to this appeal and thus helping us to achieve our goal.”

Donate at bit.ly/3fpUCAP.