Forget the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia – an enterprising vicar has completed a sponsored 440-mile ‘Tour de Corsica’ to raise funds for essential repairs to his church.

The Rev Julian Williams, vicar of Nursling & Rownhams and a keen cyclist, made the ride in aid of St John the Evangelist, in Rownhams.

Early this year, parishioners were shocked to see part of the Memorial Garden, at the east end of the church, fenced off. Following severe winter weather, pieces of masonry had begun to crumble and fall to earth, rendering that part of the grounds extremely dangerous. Church members were even more shocked to find that repairs to the Grade II listed Victorian building would cost around £25,000!

Mr Williams started the fund-raising ball rolling with his sponsored ride, during which he covered more than 400 miles of extremely demanding terrain during a complete circuit of the island, as well as an additional 400 miles “just for fun”.

“I had already planned to cycle round Corsica, so this seemed an ideal way to raise some money for these essential repairs,” said Mr Williams.

“With sponsorship and other donations the church and local community have already raised over £7,000,” said Mr Williams. “Of course, we still have a long way to go and further sponsorship and donations would be very welcome.”

Readers can see and hear more about the vicar’s trip at “A French Evening” at St John’s on Friday, July 11.

Mr Williams added: “People will be bringing and sharing food and drink with a French flavour from 7pm, and we’d love to see you there.”

Donations to the church’s repair fund can be forwarded to the Parish Office, 27 Horns Drove, Rownhams, SO16 8AH – cheques should be made payable to ‘Nursling and Rownhams PCC’.

For further details visit or call the parish office, between 9am and 11am, Monday to Friday, on 023 8073 8293.