CHURCHWARDENS from across the district gathered at Winchester’s Great Hall earlier this month to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust (HIHCT).

Around 150 people were welcomed by the trust chairman, Lady Appleyard, to enjoy performances from members of the Hampshire Music Service.

Among those enjoying the celebrations was Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry.

“I am happy to help the trust by inviting you to the Winchester Great Hall for your jubilee celebration,” he said. “It is one of just very few historic buildings for which the county council is responsible and we know just how expensive such ancient monuments can be.”

Since 1988, HIHCT has provided grants and loans in excess of £540,000 to help repair, restore and maintain churches, their contents and churchyards. More than 300 churches and chapels of all denominations in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have benefited.

The trust’s main annual fundraiser is the sponsored Ride and Stride on Saturday (September 13). Last year the event raised more than £53,000 – an increase of nearly £1,600 from the year before.

The top fund-raising church of the day was Winchester Cathedral from where a team of walkers set out to visit 34 churches, covering 15 miles and raising £2,715 in the process.