Brother George gets on his bike for Hermitage refurbishment plan

First published on: 24th April 2024

A veteran cyclist is preparing to pedal from Holy Island to key sites around North Northumberland and Tyneside in a three-day journey of more than 100 miles.

Seventy-eight-year-old Brother George Guiver’s mission is to raise £5,000 in aid of Shepherds Law Hermitage at Alnwick, a sacred place which has welcomed many visitors and pilgrims since Brother Harold Palmer became a resident there over half a century ago.

It is hoped that refurbishment plans for Shepherds Law will enable it to offer hospitality for residential guests, so people can enjoy its picturesque setting for retreat, study, guided walks, arts and crafts, and for it to host activity days for families and groups – all steeped in the ecumenical vision of Brother Harold.

Money has already been raised for a link building between the existing accommodation and church at Shepherds Law, which can also be used as a meeting space. Work is due to begin on that part of the project, but further funding is needed for essential accommodation upgrades, including fireproofing and modern amenities.

The core aim for the future is that it becomes the home of a small monastic community, and in the meantime various communities will be staying at Shepherds Law on and off to maintain the monastic round, in which people can share.

Brother George (pictured), who is part of Mirfield’s Community of the Resurrection in West Yorkshire, has visited Shepherds Law for decades. He is also an experienced cyclist, having successfully completed fundraising bike rides both in the UK and abroad.

Starting on Monday 29 April, Brother George will use his electric push bike for the demanding route. He will still need to pedal, but the electric power will help him to navigate steep hills.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Brother George. “The theme of my journey will be St Cuthbert and Shepherds Law, so I will be stopping at certain places to take short videos in which I will explain key points along the way.

“I’ve cycled since I was a kid and I still do so regularly. Shepherds Law is a very special place and Brother Harold is an inspiration to many people. The plans are very exciting and I want to do my bit. Thanks to all who have contributed to my fundraising so far.”

Brother Harold, who will turn 93 on 1 May, is no longer able to live alone at Shepherds Law, but remains close by in assisted living accommodation.

Brother George has been part of Mirfield’s Community of the Resurrection for 40 years. It is rooted in the Anglican tradition and formed in a Benedictine round of worship, ministry and hospitality.

On Monday 29 April, Brother George will start with prayers at Lindisfarne Priory at 9am, before departing Holy Island for Shepherds Law. A service will take place at Shepherds Law at 1pm.

On Tuesday 30 April, he will head down the coast to Whitley Bay, where he will be welcomed by the vicar of St Paul’s Church, the Revd John Vilaseca.

The final day, Wednesday 1 May, will see Brother George head to Chester-le-Street (via the Tyne ferry) and Durham.

With the cycling complete, Brother George will return to Shepherds Law via public transport on Thursday 2 May  for a meeting, and then back to Durham for the launch of his new book All Christians are Monks: the monastery, the parish, and the renewal of the Church, at St Anthony’s Priory, at 5pm.

Shepherd’s law is dedicated to St Mary and St Cuthbert and is set on a hilltop between the villages of Powburn of and Edlingham with magnificent views of the Cheviot Hills, looking out towards the stunning Beamish Valley stretching away towards the Tweed and the Scottish Border.

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