Beccles 24 hour preaching challenge for Ringsfield Hall

Tests of endurance come in a wide variety of formats.

Some run for hours, some cycle for hours, and some drive for hours as they test themselves to the limit.

But now a former Baptist minister will be preaching for 24 hours as he raises vital funds for a centre that has welcomed thousands of children from Norfolk and Suffolk.

Rev Chris Walton, 65, will be preaching for two 12 hour periods in Beccles on Monday and Tuesday next week to raise money for the Ringsfield Hall Trust.

The Trust, which runs Ringsfield Ecocentre, needs to raise �150,000 to cover essential works on the site and a Save Our Centre Appeal has been launched.

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Rev Walton said that the hall, which offers educational school trips and local activity days across 14.5 acres, is thriving, but needs help to cover these extra expenses.

The recently retired outreach director said: 'We are fine with day to day finances, but there is altogether �150,000 of necessary renovations.

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'One is up-to-date security, another is the Victorian heating system and the third is the need to rebuild the Victorian Fern Room.

'These three things we simply can't manage day to day, but need to do as soon as possible.'

The hall has been welcoming groups for days or extended stays since 1971, and it is estimated 80,000 people have been there in the past 40 years.

Rev Walton and his wife Ross Ashley moved to Ringsfield 13 years ago to take on the roles of outreach director and centre director, and in that time they have seen increasing numbers of children of all ages visit the centre.

It currently welcomes more than 3,000 children a year.

Rev Walton, 65, has retired from his position but as a trustee decided he should help start the campaign to allow the centre to keep going for another 40 years.

He has previously been a preacher in South Wales, Birmingham, and a retreat house Worcestershire, and has been allowed to use Hungate Church and St Michael's Church in Beccles, for this fundraiser.

Asked about the challenge of the preach-a-thon, he joked: 'Everyone said they were too long when I was at a church in Birmingham – and they were up to an hour normally!'

He added: 'I have got nearly 40 years of ministry and have written lots, so have more than enough. If people want to take another direction that is fine. It is about involvement and I hope it is accessible.'

He will preach from 9am to 9pm on Monday at Hungate Church, and the same time in St Michael's Church on Tuesday. There will also be a display of the work of the Ecocentre in both venues.

The centre is also hoping some of the groups that use the hall help to fundraise as part of the appeal.

•For more information or to sponsor Rev Walton call 01502 713020 or visit

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