Nuns' bed push a right old carry on

RICHARD PARR It looked like a scene for a Carry On film - a parish priest in a Wee Willie Winkie hat tucked up in a bed being pushed down the street by a group of nuns.

RICHARD PARR

It looked like a scene for a Carry On film - a parish priest in a Wee Willie Winkie hat tucked up in a bed being pushed down the street by a group of nuns.

Yesterday's spectacle certainly raised plenty of chuckles among onlookers as the five sisters, their grey habits flapping in the breeze, pushed Father Philip Barnes, along Walsingham's ancient Holy Mile.

The sisters' act in pushing the 11-stone priest in his bed resulted from a joke - they wanted to do something to help the fund-raising for the £2m appeal to improve facilities for pilgrims visiting the shrine.

The sisters, all from The Priory of Our Lady of Walsingham, started off from the 14th century Slipper Chapel at the Roman Catholic shrine and pushed the bed and Father Philip along the Holy Mile, finishing their journey at the Anglican shrine.

As the sisters toiled, Father Philip was snug under a duvet cuddling his Paddington Bear toy and was suitably dressed in an old-fashioned stripped nightshirt and Wee Willie Winkie-style hat.

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Everywhere along the route holidaymakers looked almost in disbelief at the comic capers.

It was all plain sailing - apart from when the No 29 Fakenham bus approached from the opposite direction and the odd pot hole made it a bumpy ride at times.

As the bed-pushers entered the historic village High Street, people standing on the pavements clapped and cheered, their cameras capturing the unusual sight.

Back at the Anglican shrine, where the party were met by a group of cheering well-wishers, Father Philip said he had enjoyed the experience. “It was a very smooth ride and much easier and less painful than the London to Walsingham cycle ride I completed with shrine administrator Father Philip North earlier this year,” he said.

As he was given a tot of brandy an onlooker commented that the sisters were more in need of a reviving drink than he was.

So far more than a £1,000 has been raised and people gave donations into his hat along the route.

The event was organised by Mother Mary Clare and Sister Wendy Renate and they were assisted in pushing by Sisters Francis Anne, Jane Louise and Carolyne Joseph.

“The whole thing started as a joke and a former member of staff at the now-closed Sue Ryder residential home at Walsingham said we could borrow one of their beds,” said Mother Clare.

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