He’s said it before and he’ll say it again – the South Yorkshire Catholic bishop’s annual charity walk could be his final one.
This time last year, the Most Reverend John Rawsthorne Bishop of Hallam, warned he would bow out of leading a fundraising trek for St Wilfrid’s Centre once he retired.
But with the search for a replacement still ongoing 12 months on, it has once again fallen to the 77-year-old to step out with a merry band of parishioners, the charity’s volunteers and staff.
The walk is to raise cash for the appeal to launch a residential centre at St Wilfrid’s, which opens its doors to hundreds of vulnerable, homeless and socially excluded adults in Sheffield every year.
Bishop John said: “Last time around, I said it could be my last - and now I’m saying it again!
“The situation is that I am here until I am replaced, but it’s been quite slow, more than a year now.
“Even when I do retire I hope to come back and take part in future years. St Wilfrid’s plan for a residential centre is a great idea and seems like a natural extension to the work they’re already doing.”
Last year, the walk raised £15,000 for the centre, which needs £1.8 million to complete the residential centre next to its current premises in Queen Road.
So far, fundraisers have reached the £700,000 mark.
Churchgoers and parishioners across Sheffield have been dipping their hands in their pockets and pledging sponsorship in recent weeks.
Organiser Kevin Bradley, director of St Wilfrid’s, will keep the 15 kilometre route a secret until the group meets.
Bishop John said: “In the old days when I was fitter they used to say I walked ahead out of sight, so since then it’s been a secret.
“It’s a really enjoyable day, I am a keen walker and it helps the charity a lot.”
Donations to the appeal can be made online at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KevinPBradley